Yu Darvish’s struggles in the 2017 World Series were historic: nine runs (eight earned) allowed over two starts that both lasted less than two full innings. It’s like the Houston Astros knew what pitches the Los Angeles Dodgers ace was throwing.
Yeah. About that.
An unnamed Astros player revealed to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci on Monday night that Houston did know what Darvish was throwing — because the right-hander was tipping his pitches.
According to the player, the Astros knew which pitch Darvish would throw by “the way he brought the ball into his glove in the set position.”
“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.”
That means the Astros essentially knew whenever an off-speed pitch was coming from Darvish, who pitches exclusively out of the stretch. As Verducci points out, Houston absolutely crushed Darvish’s sliders and cutters in his World Series outings, swinging and missing only twice on 48 pitches while hitting .556 against them en route to a World Series victory.
“We knew the first time we faced him (in Game 3),” the player told Verducci. “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.”
Add Darvish’s alleged pitch-tipping with reports that the teams used “slicker” baseballs during the World Series that made it harder to throw sliders, and it’s no wonder the Japanese ace performed so out of character on baseball’s biggest stage.