Yu Darvish’s “One-Seam” fastball

Boy, those west-coast late night games are tough. Especially the Red Sox are notorious for long games (as Bill Simmons of ESPN points out, in first 101 games of 2010 Red Sox had only one game that took less than 2 hours and 30 min., 41 games between 2:31-3:00, and rest of 59 games took longer than 3 hours. 6 of those were longer than 4 hours (4 extra). So the games started at 10:10 PM EST in California/Seattle didn’t end till after 1 AM…

One of more interesting story that I read this week is that Daisuke Matsuzaka is throwing "one-seam" fastball this year. I have never heard of one-seam. This according to Japanese article by SportsNavi's Carlos Yamazaki. Yamazaki actually reside in Boston and I know him personally, and he says (in the article) Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz all throw "One-Seam." Beckett is quoted in saying “Our team have a lot of guys who throw one-seam. Including Lester, Buccholz, and Daisuke. (Note: this is his Japanese translation translated back to English so it is not the exact quote)” He says Tim Hudson is the most known successful pitcher that throw that pitch, and has talked to him about it. Hudson learned it from his teammate Omar Olivares in 2001 (on my tweet, I said “Oliver Perez”, but apparently, it was either my mistake or SportsNavi edited after my tweet… I believe it was latter, but none the less.)

Darvish Yu showing his one-seam fastball grip via Nikkan Sports

Darvish Yu showing his one-seam fastball grip via Nikkan Sports

I also tweeted this same item in Japanese, to which I got replies like “That’s the pitch Yu Darvish throws, it’s famous.” Japanese Wikipedia entry has two links: Nikkan sports story on March 20th, saying Darvish will be unveiling new pitch on the opening day, and Darvish’s official blog titled “My New Pitch.” Nikkan story points out that Buddy Carlyle, who is Darvish’s teammate this year at Fighters, was the one who showed Darvish the grip of the ball. Carlyle played with Hudson with the Braves. His blog entry says it is as fast as his fast ball except it will move like sinker (so from righty-righty match up. it goes in on the hitter; moves away from the left-handed hitter) – he called it hard sinker.

I guess TV Asahi ran a spot right before the Opening Day about it (Houdou Station 2010/03/19), interviewing Darvish. It looks like YouTube had a link but has been removed. (Try this:
tudou.com/programs/view/6NuQ0PKEPgY/ )

[Update: April 2011] According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, Yu Darvish has been experimenting again with a one-seam fastball in spring 2011, and broke Seiichi Uchikawa’s bat with one in a full count on the 6th. The Nikkan Sports article mentions that Tim Hudson and Joel Pineiro throw it.

Here is Yu Darvish striking out 10 in the 2007 Japan Series against Chunichi Dragons, my hometown team.

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