Showdown: Yu Darvish vs. Walker Buehler

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NBC Sports EDGE Staff
·3 min read
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To celebrate both baseball's return and the launch of our 2021 MLB Draft Guide, we're going to be taking looks at what we have to offer all the way up to Opening Day. With a loaded arsenal of content -- from positional rankings, ADP reports and season-long projections, to mock drafts, projected lineups and draft cheat sheets -- we are as proud as we've ever been of what we've put together and are eager to share it with you in the coming weeks. No matter the format or size of your league, we are confident we can deliver the tools you need to secure that championship hardware.

Today, we'll be giving you a look at the guide's exclusive Player Showdown column series with the below excerpt from the starting pitchers.

Yu Darvish vs. Walker Buehler

Darvish

Darvish has been on a pretty legendary run since the second half of the 2019 season. Across 25 starts, the veteran right-hander boasts a 2.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 211/21 K/BB ratio across 157 2/3 innings. Yes, that’s an LOL-worthy 10.05 K:BB ratio. Darvish also threw harder than ever in 2020, and he’s been relying heavily on a cutter during the aforementioned devastating stretch, an offering which has become one of the best in baseball. Finally, Darvish to me looks like as good a bet as almost anyone as far as workload goes in 2021 after only three pitchers averaged more innings per start than him in 2020. I can’t say the same thing for Buehler when it comes to workload. He threw just 36 2/3 regular season innings in 2021, reaching the six-inning mark on his one occasion. Darvish averaged 6 1/3 innings per start. Yes, Buehler also made five postseason starts, but even in those he averaged just five innings. I love Buehler’s talent, but I simply don’t trust him to pitch deep into games consistently. Or, rather, I don’t trust the Dodgers to let him pitch deep into games consistently. Not when, at last check, they had 47 viable arms capable of making starts. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)

Buehler

Yes, Darvish was spectacular in 2020. Still, I don’t think it’s a tough call to favor the 26-year-old with a 3.03 ERA and 408 strikeouts in 356 innings during the last three years over the 34-year-old with a 3.60 ERA and 371 strikeouts in 295 innings during the same span. Slow starts have been a hallmark of Buehler’s career, and 2020 was mostly just the start, so it wasn’t much of a surprise that he didn’t perform up to previous standards last year. He did find his groove at the end, posting a 1.80 ERA and striking out 39 in 25 innings during the postseason. His velocity has increased slightly each of the last two years, and it seems safe to say that he still hasn’t peaked yet. Darvish did throw better than ever last year and he should remain excellent if healthy, but he will go back to facing a major league schedule in San Diego this year and his injury history is pretty scary. I’ll gladly take Buehler. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)

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