The Associated PressARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yu Darvish was unable to pitch two years ago when the Texas Rangers had an even worse record at the All-Star break before going on to win the AL West title.
Darvish, the only Texas player who was at the All-Star Game this week, could be going into his final stretch with the only MLB team so far for the right-hander from Japan. He can become a free agent after the season.
While in Miami this week, Darvish told reporters through an interpreter that he likes Texas, the only place he has lived in the United States since joining the Rangers before the 2012 season. But he also mentioned business, saying that liking Texas and getting a new contract are “two different things.”
Already 16½ games behind division-leading Houston, the Rangers (43-45) almost certainly won’t win the AL West again this year — they repeated as division champs in 2016 after Darvish returned from Tommy John surgery.
But they are within three games of a wild-card spot with the second half of the season beginning on Friday.
“Hopefully we have an amazing second half,” shortstop Elvis Andrus said. “We’ve done it before ... We know what we have in the clubhouse to be in the postseason.”
Texas was 42-46 at the break in 2015, but only six games behind the Los Angeles Angels before going 46-28 the rest of the way.
While these Rangers obviously have talent, they have been a model of inconsistency. They had a 10-game winning streak in mid-May, then lost 11 of the next 14. They dropped seven of 10 going into the break.
There are sub.-200 sluggers Joey Gallo and Mike Napoli, the team’s top two players in home runs and strikeouts. But they’re not the only ones striking out at a high rate. Texas has at least 10 strikeouts in 37 games, and matched an MLB record for a nine-inning game with 20 in Boston last month.
Darvish (6-8, 3.49 ERA) has an MLB-high 19 starts without much run support, while Cole Hamels (4-0, 3.51 in eight starts) missed almost two months with a right oblique strain.
Rangers relievers have an MLB-high 17 blown saves, matching their total from all of last season. The closer role is unsettled after since-traded Sam Dyson and hard-throwing Matt Bush both struggled.
Meanwhile, Darvish is nearing the end of his $56 million, six-year contract with Texas, which also had to pay $51,703,411 to his team in Japan. That salary is a relative bargain for a pitcher who is 52-38 over 119 major league starts with 937 strikeouts in 764⅓ innings.
Darvish, who turns 31 next month, will get a big payday — and the Rangers certainly hope to keep him.
Masahiro Tanaka signed a $155 million, seven-year contract when he left Japan for the New York Yankees in January 2014. Darvish is 1-6 in his last nine starts, but Texas has given him only 1.8 runs per nine innings in that span.
Cubs trade for hurler Quintana
CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs, scuffling and inconsistent since winning the World Series, acquired ace Jose Quintana from the White Sox on Thursday in a major trade between crosstown rivals.
Trailing Milwaukee by 5½ games in the NL Central at 43-45, the Cubs shook things up in a big way by acquiring Quintana, a 2016 All-Star. In exchange, the Cubs sent four prospects to the rebuilding White Sox: outfielder Eloy Jimenez, right-handed pitcher Dylan Cease, and infielders Matt Rose and Bryant Flete.
Quintana, a lefty, is 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts this season. He won a career-high 13 games last season with a personal-best 3.20 ERA while making his first All-Star team and is 50-54 with a 3.51 since debuting with the White Sox in 2012.
Quintana has pitched better lately after a slow start and is under club control through 2020.
“He’s a true professional who had to deal with everything from poor run support to the bullpen occasionally letting him down, the defense letting him down,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “He certainly never complained, never threw his arms up in the air, never rolled his eyes, never expressed any displeasure with his teammates.