By Ross Sutton
When comparing Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, the two best free agent pitchers available, one can quickly come to the conclusion that they are very similar pitchers. But in my opinion, they are not, and Jake Arrieta is the much safer investment for a team, and here’s why.
Both of these pitchers are entering their age 32 season, so the fact that Arrieta is 5 months older than Darvish is irrelevant when deciding who is the better player for a team to sign. One advantage for Arrieta is that he has not had as much wear and tear on his arm as Darvish. Darvish missed the entire 2015 season as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery and he also has a lot of innings under his belt from his years in Japan before he was signed by the Texas Rangers. This makes Darvish the more likely of the two to have an arm issue in the future, giving a distinct advantage to Arrieta.
Over the course of their careers in the MLB, Arrieta and Darvish have very similar ERA’s of 3.57 and 3.42, respectively. But, if you look at Arrieta’s ERA since 2013 when things seemed to click for him with the Cubs, he has a very impressive 2.73 ERA. This is significantly better than the 3.42 ERA that Darvish has posted during his years in the MLB. This gives Arrieta another clear edge over Darvish as to what can be expected from each pitcher.
The most convincing reason for why I believe that Arrieta is more valuable than Darvish is the great difference in how the two pitchers have performed when it means the most, in the postseason. In their careers, Darvish and Arrieta have both had a good bit of experience pitching in the playoffs. Darvish has pitched 26.1 innings and Arrieta has pitched 52.2 innings. Despite the fact that Arrieta has pitched exactly twice as many innings in the postseason as Darvish, he has only given up one more earned run. This amounts to a career postseason ERA of 5.81 for Darvish and 3.08 for Arrieta. For any team that is interested in signing these pitchers, it is imperative that they realize the vast difference between the two during the most important time of the year. For these reasons, I think it is quite clear that Arrieta is the better pitcher for a team to sign.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference
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