2013 Stats: 13-9, 2.83 ERA, 209.2 IP, 277 Ks, 145 ERA+ and 5.8 rWAR.

Salary: $10 million (Signed through 2017)

Each week, we will look at key players on the Texas Rangers 25-man roster, and this time we look at the team's ace, Yu Darvish.

Year in Review: So much for a sophomore slump for Darvish. He led the majors in strikeouts by 37, tied for ninth in WHIP (1.07), ninth in ERA and tied for ninth in rWAR (5.8).

The skeptics will look at his win-loss record and scoff. Those same people probably enjoy jamming to their compact discs, reading a hardcopy of the newspaper and check their AOL email account. Pitching wins are archaic. Five of Darvish's nine losses were by one run, including four 1-0 decisions.

Yu's 11.9 Ks/9 are a team record while his 277 strikeouts are only second in team history behind Nolan's 301 in 1989.

Darvish began the season exceptionally as he was one out from a perfect game against the Astros before a Marwin Gonzalez hit a single between his legs. He ended the season dealing with a nerve problem in his lower back which prevented him from getting out of the sixth inning in his final three starts. Despite the back issue, Yu still had a 3.34 ERA in the final month with 40 strikeouts in 35 innings.

Career: There were plenty of Darvish skeptics when he was signed back in January 2012. All he has done since becoming a Ranger is average 200 innings pitched, 3.34 ERA, 249 strikeouts, two All-Star appearances, two top 10 Cy Young finishes and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

According to Fangraphs, he has already achieved $46.8 million in value for the ballclub with four years remaining on his six-year, $56 million contract. Not only will he reach his contract value, but if you add the $51.7 million posting fee to make it $107.7 total, he should hit that mark in value as well.

According to, Darvish cut down on his usage of the two-seam fastball, cutter and the slow curve in 2013. He primarily used his four-seam fastball and slider while mixing in the cutter.

2014 season: With the Derek Holland freak injury occurring a few weeks ago, the Rangers will be counting on Yu Darvish more than ever to go out every five days and be the ace he is capable of.

ZIPS projects 201.2 innings, 263 strikeouts, 3.03 ERA, 142 ERA+ and worth six wins. For this season, I would like to see Darvish increase his workload by 10-15 innings. In 2013, Darvish finished 20th in the majors with 209.2 innings. If he could cross the 220-plateau, it would place him in the top 10 of baseball.

One thing is certain: Darvish can still improve upon his 2013 season. During the offseason, he worked on his fastball command which could be erratic at times in the past.

'People will see over the course of this year how much I've improved it,' Darvish said through an interpreter on Tuesday.

If this holds true, the rest of the league needs to take notice. This could be the first season a Texas Ranger wins the Cy Young award.

Eddie Middlebrook is a staff writer for Paranoid Fan, covering MLB and college football. Back in 2010, Eddie wrote for Fox Sports Southwest covering the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks and the Big 12. In 2012, he began writing for Shutdown Inning where he eventually became Vice President of Media. You can email Eddie at eddie@paranoidfan.comor catch him on Twitter @emiddlebrook.

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