Yu Darvish was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday due to a stiff neck, but the Rangers won’t be without him for long.
According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, Rangers officials said Darvish’s neck felt better after a long-toss session earlier today. He’s currently scheduled to throw off a mound tomorrow, which sets up a potential return this Sunday against Zack Greinke and the Angels. That should be a doozy of a matchup.
Darvish has compiled a 3.90 ERA through 28 starts in his first year stateside and currently ranks fourth in the American League with 214 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old right-hander has logged seven straight quality starts and has a 1.46 ERA and a 42/8 K/BB ratio over his last five outings. Assuming he feels good enough to make the start Sunday, he’ll be in line to start Game 1 of the postseason.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.