The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified their starting rotation by trading for Yu Darvish to pair him with Clayton Kershaw as a one-two punch come the playoffs. Thus far, however, the team has not yet gotten a look at the tandem.
Kershaw was on the 10-day disabled list with a lower back strain at the time of the trade, and was joined by Darvish soon after, though the right-hander is expected to be activated to start in the series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers. His injury was considered relatively mild.
During his time on the DL, Darvish threw multiple sessions to ensure the back trouble had dissipated and work on his mechanics. According to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group, that entailed Darvish refining his arm slot to match where it was pre-operation:
“After Tommy John surgery my arm slot had moved up. Now that I’m healthy and getting stronger, it’s something I was able to work on (with Honeycutt).”
Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt is renowned for working with pitchers to make corrections or improvements that lead to success. He’s been a holdover while Dodgers cycled through several managers.
Darvish’s first start with the Dodgers was an overwhelming success, as he fired seven shut out innings, complete with 10 strikeouts, while holding the New York Mets to just three hits. He struggled some against the Arizona Diamondbacks, laboring through five innings.
Darvish nonetheless managed to record 10 strikeouts and allowed two runs on five hits. Darvish’s last start before landing on the disabled list was another step back. He allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings before being removed.
Celebrating his 31st birthday that night, Darvish only collected two strikeouts, which was his first time in 125 career Major League starts to not have at least three strikeouts.