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Astros Countdown: Top Five AL West Threats in 2017

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Jun 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) in the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park. Astros won 5 to 2. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 5, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros catcher Evan Gattis (11) rounds the bases after hitting a home run against Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) in the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park. Astros won 5 to 2. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports /
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Yu Darvish

May 5, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) follows through on a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
May 5, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) follows through on a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports /

Ever since he entered the league in 2012, Yu Darvish has been giving opposing hitters fits as the ace of the Texas Rangers starting rotation. After struggling with injury in 2016, Darvish is back.

Through 10 starts this season, Darvish has a 2.83 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP. With a .204 batting average against, his lowest since 2013, Darvish is No. 11 in baseball with 68 strikeouts in 63.2 innings pitched.

With a six-pitch repertoire, Darvish relies on a four-seam fastball that averages 94.4 mph, a career high, an 82.5 mph curveball, and a high-eighties cutter. That combination is thrown 80.5 percent of the time.

That was the combination that the Astros took advantage of in his last start against them. On September 4th, Darvish gave up five earned runs on seven hits, including a George Springer home run, and three walks, striking out four in four innings of work.

Overall in 2016, the Astros hit only .242 against Darvish. More importantly, of the 15 hits he gave up, only five of them went for extra bases. The Astros posted a .387 slugging percentage against the Rangers ace.

In 2016, batters currently on the Astros roster only recorded 12 hits in 47 at-bats, with only four extra-base hits, including two home runs from Springer.

No matter what kind of numbers he may be putting up, Darvish will always be a tough opponent for any team in the AL West, especially the Astros. With six games against the Rangers in June, including the first weekend, the Astros need to be ready for Darvish.

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