Darvish, on the shelf with a stiff neck, returns to stabilize a rotation that otherwise features two relievers-turned-starters (for now), Martin Perez and Joe Saunders. The Rangers' need for him is so great that they have opted to throw him on what would essentially be his off day, after he threw and 86-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.
Sunday's game will take place against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team he's face three times in his career, going 2-0 while holding them to a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings, with 22 strikeouts against 10 walks. Darvish enters the season as a trendy pick to win the Cy Young Award, and missing a start shouldn't necessarily deter voters in this regard. He missed time last season with a back injury, but still started 32 games and eclipsed the 200 innings mark, ultimately ranking second in Cy Young voting. Perhaps his most impressive feat though, is inspiring this bit of magic:
Darvish has stuff to be true #1...Hollywood persona...has posed nude in women's magaiznes going thru very public divorce with actress wife— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 20, 2011
A true No. 1 indeed, Mr. Bowden.