Yu Darvish has averaged about six innings a start for the San Diego Padres this season.
And they have been great starts. A right-hander with multiple pitches from a variety of angles and speeds, Darvish is 5-1 on the season with a 1.75 ERA. More importantly, the Padres are 9-1 when he starts. And when he starts, the bullpen knows it will get something of a break.
That might be the most important part of Darvish’s 11th start for the Padres Saturday afternoon against the Astros in Houston. Go long, please.
Friday night’s 10-3, 11-inning win over the Astros in the opener of a three-game series was the Padres’ third straight extra-inning came. And the bullpen is getting burned at both ends. Not only are the games going longer, the starters have been working less — three-plus innings Friday night and four innings Thursday.
The Padres bullpen has been responsible for 13 2/3 innings the past two nights.
Darvish will be matched against Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi (0-2, 10.13 ERA) Saturday. Like Friday night’s starter Framber Valdez, Odorizzi will be activated from the injury list Saturday after making a rehab start for Sugar Land against the Padres’ Triple-A El Paso affiliate earlier this week. He threw 77 pitches in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
Odorizzi has been on the injured list with a pronator strain since his third Astros start on April 24. The 31-year-old right-hander gave up nine runs on 10 hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts in eight innings before landing on the IL.
He has never faced the Padres.
Pitching isn’t what hurt the Astros in regulation play Friday. The Padres had only four hits through nine innings. The Astros stranded 15 runners on the bases — twice leaving the bases loaded.
“We didn’t capitalize on good opportunities,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We had runners in scoring position in five of the first seven innings.”
The Padres are 15-3 over the past 18 games and continue to stay atop the National League West with the best record in the major leagues. They haven’t lost two straight games since May 7-8.Meanwhile, the Astros have lost five of their past six after winning eight of their previous nine.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler knows the Astros can get hot at any time.
“We have a tough matchup with, in my opinion, one of the best hitting teams in the the Major Leagues,” Tingler said Friday. “The Astros have been really good for a long time. They are super disciplined in the zone, they foul off a ton of pitches. They are athletic. They’re experienced. They don’t chase, you have to beat them in the zone. As soon as you think you’ve made a quality pitch, they’re really good at fouling those off.
“It’s going to be a really good challenge … a really good showdown for our pitching staff.”
The Padres have lost only one series in five weeks.
The Padres’ lone loss with Darvish on the mound came on April 17. His ERA has dropped in eight of his past nine starts. And he has given up two runs only once in that span. If anything, he is getting stronger.
In his three most recent starts, Darvish has given up two runs (one earned) on 13 hits and a walk with 17 strikeouts in 18 innings.
In his career against the Astros, Darvish is 5-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 14 starts.
–Field Level Media