After defeating the Chicago Cubs in consecutive games, the Los Angeles Dodgers are now in position to clinch the series with another win on Saturday. In order to do so, they will need to overcome a familiar face in Yu Darvish.
The right-hander makes his first return to Dodger Stadium since a disastrous outing in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Pitching for the Dodgers at the time, Darvish allowed as many runs (five) as outs recorded in the deciding matchup against the Houston Astros.
In two overall World Series starts, Darvish yielded a combined nine runs (eight earned) over a mere 3.1 innings of work. To no surprise, Darvish has received the majority of the blame for the team falling short.
He considers his upcoming start against Los Angeles a big test and an opportunity to erase the memories of what he considers the worst day of his life.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is hopeful that Darvish will avoid boos from the Dodger Stadium faithful on Saturday, but couldn’t offer any assurances, per Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com:
“I don’t want him to get booed, but fans, they can make their own decisions,” Roberts said.
Roberts added that he believes Darvish enjoyed moderate success during his time with the Dodgers:
“I thought he had some really good moments with us, and people want to rest on Game 7 a lot, which was unfortunate, obviously, for all of us,” Roberts said. “But whether it’s certain things that he has to get past coming to Dodger Stadium — I’m not sure what’s in his mind.”
Darvish, acquired by Los Angeles at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline during the 2017 season, played a pivotal role in helping the team reach its first Fall Classic since 1988. However, that success can be easily forgotten by his abysmal performances in the postseason.
After his implosion in the World Series, Darvish went on to sign a lucrative six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs in February 2018. His stint in Chicago to this point has been forgettable as well.
In the first year of his mega pact, Darvish managed to make only eight starts as a result of persistent elbow pain. Despite being at full health again, the 32-year-old has struggled mightily through the first two and a half months of the 2019 season.
In 14 starts, he has compiled a 2-3 record, 4.98 ERA, 5.29 FIP and 1.48 WHIP with 81 strikeouts and a league-leading 44 walks across 72.1 innings pitched.