Did Yu Darvish show any warning signs during his last start just before triceps soreness sent him to the DL? Perhaps.
Darvish’s vertical release point was lower during his last start against the Reds than it had been all season, which may have been an indicator of arm issues. The tall right-hander normally lets go of pitches at around 5.5 feet from the ground, but his average vertical release point average in that game in Cincy was 5.3 feet.
And while a mere four percent difference doesn’t seem like much, it stands out when comparing this start to his previous body of work. Never has Darvish’s vertical release point been this low in the last three seasons, as illustrated by the below vertical release point graph. The dot on the far right is his most recent start.
Also telling is that Darvish’s release point gradually dropped as his start went along. When he threw 36 pitches in that opening frame, his release point was essentially within normal range. But after he went back out in the following innings, his release point started to dip and eventually plateaued in the fourth inning.
If there’s a non-negative takeaway here, it’s that his velocity didn’t dip like his release point. If that had been the case, you’d probably have to get the AED on the wall over there to resuscitate me.
It’s possible the drop in release point is just a coincidence. And since it’s only a four percent drop, it might not be that big a warning flag. Nevertheless, it’s not not something so interpret this as you wish. Personally, I’ll try to ignore this data so I don’t cause myself anymore anxiety.