Eleven months ago Yu Darvish was not an ace, nor was he tough and he allowed too many home runs. That sentiment was shared by a few broadcasters and other media members. In fact, Yu did give up too many home runs, but he also led the Rangers in shutdown innings (allowing zero runs in a half inning immediately after his team scored to take a lead).
Here we go again; part 2 begins. Darvish has or had elbow inflammation and discomfort. This news was especially scary because of the exploding rates of Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) tears, which requires the famous Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is a process of replacing the UCL with a tendon from another part of the body, usually from the forearm or leg. The recovery on Tommy John surgery is a year or more and some pitchers are never the same. Neftali Feliz has certainly not recovered to his 2011 self.
The problem arose when a few local writers concluded that Darvish wasn't tough and left his teammates hanging out to dry. The statement that "Darvish could pitch if we were in a pennant race" from Jon Daniels sparked these conclusions about Darvish and his toughness. The diagnosis from an MRI showed that there was no damage, just discomfort and inflammation in the elbow. However, the sentiment that Yu isn't tough and should be pitching is only shared by a few people. These writers compared nagging injuries of everyday players to a possible elbow injury for a pitcher. This is the epitome of comparing apples to oranges.
A pitcher's elbow and shoulder are the two things you never want to injure.
Fixing an elbow is a year-long process and the shoulder can sometimes never be fixed. Risking either of those body parts on a pitcher is a gamble that nobody should be willing to take, pennant race or not. Sandy Koufax's career was cut short due to his elbow. He was forced to retire at age 30 after going 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA after the 1966 season. According to accounts of Koufax's teammates, friends and family he was pitching in excruciating pain. That can now be fixed, but it is also something that you do not want a pitcher to go through.
Apparently Ron Washington doesn't feel the same way. Wash was quoted as saying, "So he's got inflammation. I've got inflammation." Later on a radio show, Wash apologized for the comment, but then went on to say that he hoped Yu came back so he didn't quit on his teammates. (This is where you roll your eyes)
I'm not sure where we went wrong, but an elbow issue in a year of unprecedented elbow injuries is something that should be taken very seriously. So we are back to Yu Darvish not being tough again. Of course ace pitchers don't suffer elbow injuries or they simply play through them. That last sentence is not true but that is the mentality.
Luckily, a man rode into town on a white horse and explained what should be done. That man is Jeff Passan from Yahoo Sports and his article is fantastic and spot on. As Jeff points out, shutting Yu down for the remainder of the season is the smart thing to do and it looks like the Rangers will do exactly that. There is absolutely no reason to bring him back and risk an injury. He has all offseason to heal the elbow, get in a light throwing program over the winter and come back in 2015 as the Yu Darvish we all know.
You can find Patrick on Twitter @PatrickDespain or by clicking your heels together three times.