I’ve made no secret of my lack of faith, to put it mildly, in Yu “The Whirling” Darvish, who I never saw as the star number one starting pitcher that others have seen, nor have I failed to express my regret for the trade that the Dodgers made to acquire his short-lived rental services, in exchange for a future hitting star in Willie Calhoun. But, so far this post season, the Whirling has shown me up, pitching superbly, and getting the call tonight to right the slightly leaky ship that failed to survive a late inning hurricane on Wednesday night.
In Wednesday’s epic game, clearly a classic in World Series history, the Dodgers used a record nine pitchers, finally losing the game when the bottom of the barrel was scraped clean with the arm of Brandon McCarthy, who became the guy on the spot when everything counted, despite his 1) Spending most of the season’s second half on the
disabled list; 2) Having been rightly left off the team’s roster for both the Division and Championship series, and 3) Having allowed 14 earned runs over his previous 14-2/3 innings pitched. But, when that barrels is empty, what else can you do? Who would have thought that the Dodgers, a team that saw its 2017 pitching staff rank first in the National League and second in all of baseball in ERA and first in both in lowest opponent batting average need to resort to the team’s number nine pitcher in the most important inning of the season? More correctly, McCarthy is the team’s number 12 pitcher, as Clayton Kershaw who pitched the night before and the Whirling and Alex Wood who were of course held out to start tonight and tomorrow clearly are way up in that hierarchy.
Despite the Dodgers’ losing a game they clearly could have won, the bottom line is that they lost the game started by baseball’s hottest pitcher, Justin Verlander, a game that they had beforehand seemed almost destined to lose, and looking forward to a potential Verlander-Hill rematch in a game six of the World Series, they did more than most teams have been able to do against Verlander for many weeks, hitting two home runs off of him and scoring three runs, raising his 2017 post season ERA from 1.46 all the way up to 2.05.
Even with the day off, after Wednesday’s workout the Dodgers’ pitching staff could use a solid seven-inning, or more, performance tonight from the Whirling. Given his recent performances and his earlier successes in Houston, that may not be too much to ask for. While with the Rangers, the Whirling went 1-1 against the Astros earlier this season, and more importantly for now, he was 1-0 in Minute Maid Park, allowing one earned run in seven innings in a single start this season.
Seven from the Whirling and a return to form from Brandon Morrow and Kenley Jansen, and the Dodgers are back in control.