Yu Darvish is beatable, but the Phillies need to execute on 2 things to make it happen tonight
The National League Championship Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres begins tonight.
The Padres will send Yu Darvish to the mound in Game 1. Darvish has faced the Phillies twice this season and holds a 2.08 ERA, totaling 13 innings against the pre-deadline Phillies. In May, Darvish struck out five over seven scoreless innings, earning a win in Philadelphia. In June, he struck out nine over six innings in San Diego and was handed a no-decision and a Padres loss.
The Phillies will send Zack Wheeler to the mound for Game 1 in San Diego on an extra day’s rest. Wheeler has pitched twice for the Phillies this postseason. In St. Louis, he threw 6.1 innings, allowing just two hits while striking out four. In Atlanta, he threw 6.0 innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs while striking out five.
The Phillies’ offense finally caught fire during the Atlanta Braves series and they have now scored 35 total runs in six playoff games.
Bryce Harper batted .500 against the Braves with two home runs and five RBI. Nick Castellanos and JT Realmuto have remained consistent threats in the middle of the order, and Rhys Hoskins, well, no one will forget the three run home run he hit on Friday night in South Philadelphia anytime soon.
That’s not even mentioning Jean Segura and the bottom of the lineup guys like Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott, all of who made an impact against the Braves in the NLDS.
The vibes around Philadelphia truly have never been better, but beating Darvish in San Diego will be a challenge. Playoff hitting is built upon picking apart the opposing pitcher, and the Phillies need to focus on two specific aspects of Darvish’s game.
Phillies vs Darvish (2022)
- Kyle Schwarber: 1-6, RBI
- Rhys Hoskins: 3-6
- JT Realmuto: 0-3
- Nick Castellanos: 3-6, RBI
- Alec Bohm: 1-6
- Bryson Stott: 1-4, RBI
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#1: The Phillies need to stay ahead in counts
Jumping on pitchers early is always a general key to success, but Yu Darvish struggles the most when he falls behind in counts. Hitters this season have logged these specific numbers on Darvish.
- .924 OPS on 0-0 counts
- .992 OPS on 1-0 counts
- .885 OPS on 2-1 counts
- 1.714 OPS on 3-1 counts
The Phils swung early and often on Max Fried back in Game 1, and it worked to perfection, as the dominant lefty was pulled from the game after allowing four earned runs in just three and a third innings.
Yu Darvish’s cutter is his #1 pitch, throwing it 35% of the time in 2022. Darvish has a wide pitch arsenal in addition to his cutter, including a 4-seam (25.2%), slider (19.1%), sinker (9.1%), split-finger (7.5%), and curveball (4%). The Phillies need to hunt Darvish’s 4-seam, which is what he tends to lead off his batters with.
Yu Darvish Against the Phillies in 2022
May 19th (Phillies Lose 2-0) – 7 IP, 0 ER, 5 Ks
June 26th (Phillies Win 8-5)– 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks
#2: The Phillies need to jump on Darvish EARLY in the game
Throughout the playoffs, most of the scoring for the Fightins has come early in the game, specifically the Atlanta series. If the Phillies want to take advantage of Darvish, they need to jump on him the first time through the lineup
Yu Darvish Through the Lineup
- 1st Time: .702 OPS
- 2nd Time: .481 OPS
- 3rd Time: .559 OPS
- 4th Time: .857 OPS
Darvish is a dangerous pitcher once he settles in, which is something the Phillies can’t let him do. They jumped early on pitchers like Max Fried, Spencer Strider, Collin McHugh, and Charlie Morton, and should leave no exception for Yu Darvish.