Yu Darvish will start Rangers’ playoff opener

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Ron Washington announced that Yu Darvish will start the Rangers’ first playoff game whether it’s the one-game Wild Card matchup or Game 1 of the ALDS.

Matt Harrison pitched last night and Ryan Dempster starts Game 162 this afternoon, so Darvish was the obvious choice.

Darvish’s overall 3.90 ERA isn’t great and he’s struggled to consistently throw strikes while walking 89 batters in 191 innings, but he’s definitely shown the ability to dominate a lineup when on his game.

Darvish ranks second among AL pitchers with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings and third in the league with a .220 opponents’ batting average. And he finished the season on a very strong note, going 5-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 67/15 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over his final eight starts.

Watch: George Springer robs Todd Frazier with an incredible catch at the wall

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Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.

According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.

It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.

The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.