Checking In On Yu Darvish

Writer: Michael Bier

Around this time last month, Yu Darvish dawned Texas across his chest with the number 11 on his back. Fast forward to present day, and Yu now wears a new set of threads. We all know Darvish was traded to the Dodgers at the deadline, but what most people don't know is how well he’s doing in LA. With a rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Yu Darvish, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu, it only seems fitting that Darvish is comfortable.

Since his June 28th start against Cleveland, Yu’s ERA rose from 3.11 to 4.01 by the end of July (all starts with the Rangers) and in what turned out to be his last start in a Texas uniform, Darvish gave up 10 runs over 3.2 innings pitched against the Miami Marlins. So what exactly would make the Dodgers still want Darvish? Well, his reputation definitely is a factor, but the truth is, we’ll never know. I personally wouldn't want to give up some of my top prospects for a guy who's performed in such a way Darvish did, but the Dodgers apparently saw it differently. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s so far worked out in LA’s favor.

Darvish shined in his first start as a Los Angeles Dodger, going 7 strong innings, striking out 10, and limiting the Mets to just 3 hits while not allowing a single run. Six days later, Darvish took the mound once again — this time against Arizona. For the second consecutive game, Darvish struck out 10 batters, but this time doing it in just 5 innings. Fast forward another six days to Darvish’s next start against the White Sox, and wouldn't you know it? Another solid start from Yu. In his home debut (also his 25th birthday) he went 6 innings while only allowing 3 runs.

It's a small sample size, but with a guy like Darvish, a string of starts such as these shouldn't go unnoticed. Combine all three of Yu’s starts with LA, and you get 18 innings, 22 strikeouts, 5 runs allowed, 16 hits allowed, and a dazzling ERA of 2.50. That's an average of 6 solid innings, 7 strikeouts, and just under 2 runs per game. Miss him yet Rangers fans?

Darvish’s next start was scheduled for Tuesday against the Pirates, but an early exit in his most recent start due to back tightness might prevent that from happening. The Dodgers are essentially the Golden State Warriors of baseball, so I don't think skipping over Darvish one time is really going to hurt them. Besides, they work with a six man rotation so it's not like anyone is getting a start with less than the typical five day rest.

So far, Yu has proved himself worthy in the regular season, but it’s still a question whether or not he can turn things around in the playoffs. Darvish has only two career postseason starts, one in 2012 against the Orioles in the first ever AL Wild Card game, and the other coming last year against the Blue Jays in game two of the ALDS. Darvish fared well in 2012, but recently in 2016 he went 5 innings, giving up 5 runs (4 of them were homers) striking out only 4, and taking the loss.

The Dodgers are getting exactly what they traded for, but the postseason is still the only question mark remaining. You never know though, new team, new setting — New Yu.