It’s been long suspected that Japan’s best pitcher — Yu Darvish — would be posted by his NPB team this winter, thereby allowing Major League teams to bid on him. Kyodo News in Japan has now confirmed through several sources that, yes, Darvish will formally ask for this after the postseason.
There will obviously be a lot of interest in Darvish, with the Blue Jays, Rangers and Yankees all having been reported to be considering a run at him, and no doubt many other teams will join in the fray. How could they not when he has posted a 18-6 record in 28 starts with an ERA of 1.44 while striking out 276 batters in 232 innings? Yes, there have been many busts among Japanese pitchers coming stateside, but Darvish seems like a cut above.
Meanwhile, Joel Sherman reports that people inside the Yankees organization or kinda bad-mouthing C.J. Wilson. between that and the Darvish news, Wilson’s agent is probably gettin’ really mad today.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.