Yu Darvish was brought in just for this reason.
This is why the Texas Rangers spent over $50 million for the right to just negotiate with Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish. This is why the Rangers let C.J. Wilson walk without even seriously getting into the sweepstakes for a guy that had been the club's ace for two seasons.
This is it, but it's not quite what the Rangers envisioned.
When the Rangers brought in Yu Darvish, it was to start Game 1 and Game 5 of an ALDS, Games 1 and 5 of an ALCS and the same in the World Series. Hell, with Darvish's track record he could have even gone three games in a best-of-7.
Instead, the Rangers are sending Darvish to the mound on Friday in an ever-crucial win-or-go-home game against the Baltimore Orioles for the right to face the New York Yankees in the ALDS after an epic collapse that culminated with the Rangers' 12-5 loss to the Oakland A's on Wednesday.
The Rangers are 19-10 in Darvish's 29 starts this season. He's 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA in his rookie season and has 221 strikeouts with legitimate ace stuff. Now he'll get to put it to the test, and he'll so against a team he's never faced in the Baltimore Orioles, and he'll do it at home, where he's 10-2 this season.
Thanks to some intensive research, we've come up with Darvish's track record this season when facing a team for the first time, and the numbers are promising if you're a Rangers fan.
In his 14 starts against teams that have not yet seen him, check out Darvish's numbers this season:
IP — 98.1 (average 7.1 innings per start)
ERA — 3.30 (average 2.5 ER per start)
K — 118 (average 8.4 Ks per start)
He's gone 6-plus innings in 13 of those starts, and 7-plus in eight of them, and he's allowed three runs or less in 12 of his starts with at least eight strikeouts in 10 of them.
So yeah, the Rangers might not beat the Orioles on Friday night, but if they don't, there's a pretty solid chance the blame won't lie on Darvish's broad shoulders.