Yu Darvish is a younger, taller Pedro Martinez

In the opinion of Aaron Guiel, Japanese star Yu Darvish pitches with the same blend of power and...

In the opinion of Aaron Guiel, Japanese star Yu Darvish pitches with the same blend of power and finesse as long-time Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. (GETTY IMAGES)

Bob Elliott, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

Aaron Guiel faced Yu Darvish at least 10 times during spring training games and figures he had another 15 at-bats against him during the Nippon Professional Baseball season.

Who does Yu compare to?

“Pedro Martinez,” said Guiel from Langley, B.C., on Sunday.

Hold on a second: Darvish is 6-foot-5. Martinez stands 5-foot-10.

“They don’t look anything alike, maybe zero physical similarities, but Darvish’s pitches and pitch sequences resemble Pedro because of the blend of power and finesse,” said Guiel, who played five seasons in the majors with the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees before spending five years with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Japan.

“Time will tell if he comes close to dominating the way Pedro did,” said Guiel. “Pedro could blow you away with his fastball or throw his 12-to-6 curve ball and catch you off balance.”

Martinez was often accused during his days with the Montreal Expos of being a head hunter. Darvish, 25, has that quality too, according to Guiel.

“Darvish is always in control and loves to intimidate,” he said. “Most Japanese pitchers don’t like that part of the game. Darvish’s father is from Iran, his mother from Japan. He has an edge to him like Josh Beckett in the way they try to control the game.”

Which team wins the Darvish bidding war will be known at 5 p.m., on Tuesday when the commissioner’s office makes the announcement. The Dallas Morning News and the New York Post have both reported that the Blue Jays have made the top bid and that both the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees fell short of the Jays bid, believed to be between $40-$50 million US.

Still no word on the Chicago Cubs, who could be players since new team president Theo Epstein was the one who brought Daisuke Matsuzaka to the Boston Red Sox in 2006.

Darvish was 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA last season, walking 36 and striking out 276 in 232 innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters of the NPB’s Pacific Division. Yakult was in the Central Division.

The Milwaukee Brewers won the right to talk contract with a former teammate of Guiel’s — outfielder Norichika Aoki of Yakult — for $2.5 million on Sunday.

“Aoki and Darvish are friends. Aoki told me Darvish made a request to go from pitching on five days rest to four,” said Guiel. “I heard he told the team he’d even pitch on two days rest.”

As our NPB expert, Guiel said Darvish is as big in Japan as Michael Jackson was in North America. He also said that, when the Yanks signed pitcher Kei Igawa in 2007, “most players in Japan thought he’d get beat up in MLB.” Igawa’s career lasted 16 games with the Yanks.

“Players in Japan are worshipped,” Guiel said. “Japanese people support you, win or lose. One year, we were the worst team in the league. We were losing 9-1 and people stayed until the final out, cheering and singing songs.

“Instead of facing the Hiroshima Carp, without a power threat in the lineup, Darvish will be facing the Yankees or the Red Sox. What if he gets hit hard and gets booed? How will he handle the coast-to-coast travel? In Japan, travel wasn’t too tough. We’re on an island.

“In the NPB, he was rarely challenged, so it will interesting to see how he’ll react to getting hit hard in the MLB.”

Guiel, meanwhile, raved about Darvish’s fluid mechanics.

“Yu is a world-class pitcher with power pitches and great command,” Guiel said.

“His fastball, slider and change are above average and he can throw variations of his pitches to give hitters different looks. Because of the amount of bullpens and pitches thrown, he’s able to repeat his delivery with excellent command.

“He has a good mound presence and is not easily intimidated.”

Guiel, a right-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman who hit .246 with 35 homers in his MLB career, figures Darvish would rank among the top 10 pitchers he’s ever faced. With the Royals and the Yanks, he faced Cy Young Award winners Johan Santana, Roger Clemens, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito, Chris Carpenter, Pat Hentgen and Cliff Lee.

“After playing in Japan I’m excited to watch his success,” said Guiel.

“He’s a special pitcher. It would be great for Toronto to pick him up.”


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