Yu Darvish was a deadline acquisition who helped give the Dodgers their best rotation depth in their five-year run of NL West division titles. Then he turned into Ray Finkle in the World Series.
What went right
The Dodgers acquired Darvish from the Rangers on July 31 for Willie Calhoun, Brendon Davis and A.J. Alexy.
Darvish paid immediate dividends, joining Karl Spooner as the only Dodgers with 10 or more strikeouts in each of his first two starts with the team. In nine starts with the Dodgers Darvish had a 3.44 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 13 walks in 49⅓ innings.
He picked up road wins in his first two playoff starts for the Dodgers, and in a five-start stretch from the end of the regular season through the NLCS Darvish posted an 0.88 ERA with 35 strikeouts and two walks in 30⅔ innings.
Darvish had one of the most memorable and unexpected plate appearances of the season. In the top of the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS, Darvish was allowed to bat with two outs and the bases loaded with the Dodgers nursing a 3-1 lead. It was a surprise move given Dave Roberts’ penchant for pulling his starters before facing a lineup a third time, and that Darvish in his career to that point was 4-for-35 with 22 strikeouts and one walk as a batter.
But not only did the move work out as Darvish walked, but he did so on four pitches from a shook Carl Edwards.
What went wrong
Darvish’s regular season road with the Dodgers was a rocky one, including going through changes to his delivery and pitch mix in an effort to try to correct bad habits stemming from his 2015 Tommy John surgery. He struck out his fewest batters in a start (two) on Aug. 16, the beginning of a four-game stretch that saw Darvish allowed 16 runs on 27 hits — including six home runs — in 18⅓ innings.
In Game 3 of the World Series in Houston Darvish was terrible, allowing four runs on six hits while recording only five outs. Darvish was tattooed for three doubles and a home run, putting the Dodgers behind 4-0 in a game they would lose 5-3. His 26 game score was the fifth-worst World Series start by a Dodgers pitcher.
The 104-win Dodgers earned home field advantage throughout the postseason, and getting Game 7 of the World Series at their stadium was their reward. But Dodger Stadium was soon quiet as a mouse early on Nov. 1 as Darvish turned in yet another clunker. Darvish again only recorded five outs, this time allowing five runs, the big blow a two-run shot by series MVP George Springer that knocked Darvish out of the game.
Calhoun, who was traded for Darvish, seemed to be watching Game 7:
— June Calhoun (@11WillieCalhoun) November 2, 2017
Darvish’s 2017 World Series totals: 3⅓ innings, 9 hits, 9 runs (8 earned), 21.60 ERA, 2 walks and no strikeouts. That the Astros were reportedly aware of Darvish tipping pitches during the series just poured salt in the wounds.
Stats: 3.44 ERA, 3.38 FIP in 9 starts with LA, 61 K, 13 BB in 49⅓ IP
Salary: $11 million, of which the Dodgers paid roughly $3.7 million
Game of the year
Darvish struck out seven in 6⅓ innings, allowing only a solo home run to beat the Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 series lead. Plus, Darvish had the RBI walk in the scenario mentioned above.
Darvish is a free agent.