Dunno…but it certainly was Interlocking-up NYU.
As I was watching the Yu Darvish start against the Yankees, it dawned on me that the Japanese hurler might have more pitches than I was originally led to believe. Those who read this site are aware that I’ve been watching Darvish since his first intra-squad game back in early March, which makes me a Darvish hipster, and an unapologetic one at that. Because of my familiarity with the pitcher, I’ve been able to identify his deep arsenal, one that features both a two- and four-seam fastball, a cutter, two type of curveballs, a slider, a splitter, and a straight-change, but up until tonight’s game against the Yankees, I hadn’t noticed that he was throwing what I’ve seen described as a shutto, or a reverse slider.
...I was confused until the seventh inning, when catcher Mike Napoli appeared to be using a different sign for the pitch than the standard fastball, placing an L between his legs when he wanted the pitch with the extreme arm-side run. The announcers referred to the offering as a two-seamer, but as I stated, the movement was way more extreme, as was evident by the catcher’s pre-pitch setup and anticipation of the pitch (he expected run). The best example can be seen in the sixth and final pitch of Darvish’s seventh-inning matchup against Raul Ibanez, as the standard fastball morphs into a reverse slider that runs away from the hitter like the hitter has cooties.
I wanted to assume that it was just a four-seamer that had late arm-side explosion, because Darvish’s four-seamer has serious movement, but this pitch freaked out and ran away like nothing I have ever seen before. I’m not overly familiar with PITCHf/x, which is to say I’m aware of its existence and I respect those that have a mastery of such data, but I’m not fluent in its language. That said, I’d love to see a breakdown of Darvish’s pitch movements to see if my eye was just playing tricks on me or if he was manipulating this particular ball for effect, as was suggested by the sign from the catcher and the outcome of the offering.