The Dodgers will enter Wednesday night’s contest with just four games left in the regular season. With October on the horizon, their starting pitching has been shaping into playoff form.
The Dodgers are looking to get out of September as quickly as they can. In a month that saw the best team in baseball drop 11 straight games, it’s not difficult to understand why. But while they may be in a hurry to get to October, Dave Roberts also faces the challenge of mentally preparing his team for postseason baseball. As luck would have it, several key players are hitting their stride just in time.
One of the guys that is shaping into playoff form is Yu Darvish. When the team acquired Darvish at the trade deadline, there were hopes he would act as a second ace right behind Clayton Kershaw.
The early results of his arrival were nothing short of discouraging. Darvish struggled to find his command and gave up an alarming number of home runs almost from the beginning of his Dodgers’ tenure.
He threw a ton of pitches and had to work hard early on to make it out of innings. Fans immediately started to feel like that team had wasted a decent prospect on a guy who would no doubt let the team down in October.
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But Darvish is one of the elite starting pitchers in the game for a reason, and he has certainly proved that over the past few starts. In total, Darvish has nine starts for Los Angeles in 2017. His first was excellent, but the next five were rocky (to put it nicely), but his last three have been dominant just as the first one.
In the span between start number two and six, Darvish allowed 18 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings of work. That would put him at an earned run average of 5.34 in those appearances. What’s more alarming, is that Darvish gave up seven home runs in those six starts. It was looking like the Dodgers were going to be in a heap of playoff trouble.
Since then, Darvish has been lights out. Over his last three starts, he has given up only one earned run over 19 1/3 innings of work. What’s more encouraging than that is that he also has not allowed a home run in that time frame.
He is averaging a little over seven strikeouts per start, as opposed to the six he was in the previous six starts. Not excessively more, but he is also going far deeper into games this late in the season. He has averaged 6 1/3 innings per start as opposed to his five innings before.
With his 0.47 earned run average over the last three starts, Darvish appears poised to have a huge October. And with a one-two punch like Kershaw-Darvish, teams had better be prepared for a fight.
Look for Darvish to maybe have one final (albeit shortened) tune-up start toward the end of the season. And mark your calendars, because the Dodgers World Series run begins on Friday, October 6th.