When Yu Darvish imploded in the World Series, there was immediate speculation about the cause could have been. Was he injured? Was former Rangers teammate Carlos Beltran sharing his secrets with the Astros? Was Darvish tipping his pitches somehow?
The last option seemed like the most likely, and now we know exactly how he was doing it. Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci spoke with an Astros player who explained how they knew what was coming.
According to a Houston player, the Astros often knew what Darvish was about to throw by the way he brought the ball into his glove in the set position. (Darvish pitches exclusively out of the stretch.) The player said it worked like this: Darvish holds the ball at his side when he gets the sign from the catcher. Whether he re-grips or not as he brings the ball into his glove was the tip-off whether he was going to throw a slider/cutter or a fastball.
“We knew the first time we faced him [in Game 3],” the player said. “The next time [in Game 7] it was mostly the same, but then it was more about just having a great game plan going in. We knew he was going to try to go back to his slider to find it. We had a great approach.”
Darvish did not make it out of the second inning in either start. He threw 48 sliders and cutters to Houston hitters in the World Series. They swung and missed only twice at them while hitting .556 against the pitch.
Darvish allowed two runs in 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts of the postseason while allowing opponents to hit .195 against him. In the two World Series starts, he allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings while surrendering a .474 batting average against.
If nothing else, this should stop any talk of Darvish’s nightmare World Series decreasing his free-agent value.