Steve Busby is a former major league pitcher who threw no-hitters in each of his two full seasons for Kansas City (1973 and 1974) before his career was derailed by rotator cuff surgery. He's impressed with Darvish.
"I don't believe I've seen a right-handed pitcher that can make the ball do what he can make it do any better," said Busby, now a Rangers broadcaster. "There's some guys that have pretty good movement, but he has the ability to make the ball move both ways on his fastball. ... That's a critical ability."
Lefty Bruce Chen has been in the majors for 14 years. He is with his 10th different team, the Royals, and believes he has made it this long by expanding from the basic three pitches he was throwing in the minors.
"When you're coming up, they want fastball, curveball, changeup," Chen said. "And then when I got to the major leagues, I realized I needed a slider, and then people started adjusting, and they said, 'You know, you need a cutter to make sure you keep guys honest.'"
While Ryan played longer in the majors than any other player and had so much success throwing fastballs past hitters, few pitchers try to do it like he did. At least those starting games.
"Now we're seeing a lot of different people pitching off their fastball or their cut fastballs, what they call two-seam fastballs trying to get the ball to sink or run it. ... People are trying to develop movement off their fastballs," Ryan said. "I think part of that is you don't see a lot of just real hard throwers coming up in the game where that's considered still the best pitch in baseball, and that's somebody that throws above-average fastballs."
More common are hard-throwing relievers who aren't expected to throw extended innings each night. Mariners manager Eric Wedge said it seems every team has several guys like that these days.
"Back in the day, 95 (mph) used to mean something," said Wedge, who like Melvin played in the majors as a catcher. "Look at just how prominent that cutter has become in the game. And the changeups or the split-fingers. ... You're getting a lot more action on the baseball at home plate nowadays.
"If you look at what the pitching has done versus what the hitting's done in regards of moving forward, " he said, "I think the pitching is ahead of the hitters without a doubt."
AP Sports Writers Ben Walker in New York and Dave Skretta in Kansas City contributed to this report.
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