Not that the Dodgers, the team with the best record in baseball, needed a rejuvenation, but it’s clear what his new teammates think about acquiring Yu Darvish.
“It’s exciting to have him around,” closer Kenley Jansen said. “We know how great of a pitcher he is and he’s going to help us tremendously. He’s going to help us right now, down the road and in the playoffs. He’s going to be a big part for us to win ballgames.”
Darvish, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Rangers at Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, showed why he was among the most coveted players Friday night. He allowed three hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts on 99 pitches in seven innings in his Dodgers debut, a 6-0 victory over the Mets at Citi Field.
“I was really worried because the Dodgers got such great pitchers and I didn’t want to pitch bad on the first outing compared to the other guys,” Darvish said through a translator. “So I’m just glad I pitched good today.”
The 30-year-old righthander improved to 7-9 with a 3.81 ERA. In his career, he’s 53-39, 3.38. His numbers this season may not be up to his norm, but his teammates know the caliber of arm they’ve added.
“The stuff’s electric and it’s just something that is a great complement to the rest of the team,” pitcher Rich Hill said. “I know everybody’s excited about watching him pitch tonight and watching him pitch for the rest of the year, to see him go out there and do his thing. That kind of injection into the clubhouse is something.”
After Michael Conforto’s single on the first pitch of the game, Darvish retired 21 of the next 24 batters, striking out the final three batters he faced.
Mets manager Terry Collins, who saw Darvish pitch in Japan, complimented the Dodgers’ move to acquire him.
“He’s one of the best starters in baseball,” Collins said, “and that’s a pretty good package to get in the deal.”
Darvish, who made the All-Star team in each of his first three seasons, finished second in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013, going 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA and an MLB-best 277 strikeouts in 209 2⁄3 innings. He missed the 2015 season after Tommy John surgery but made 17 starts for the Rangers in 2016.
Even before Darvish made his first start for his new team, the Dodgers (now 77-32) entered Friday with a 14-game lead in the NL West and seven more wins than any other team in baseball. Adding Darvish provides depth, especially as Clayton Kershaw recovers from a back injury that has sidelined him since July 23.
“It couldn’t have [gone] any better,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was just enjoying the moment, enjoying his teammates and getting ready to make a major-league start with the Dodgers. Once he threw that first pitch, I think all the anticipation kind of dissipated.”