Excited Yu Darvish is the best Yu Darvish, in the eyes of Rangers manager Jeff Banister.
Darvish, who will start ALDS Game 2 against Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ at 12:08 p.m. Friday, is at his best when he’s emotionally engaged and letting the world see it on the mound.
“I like when I see Yu Darvish that excited,” Banister said. “I think that’s when we get his best. I feel comfortable with where he’s at mentally, physically.”
Darvish had a more reserved, if not stoic, demeanor on the mound the last time he pitched in the postseason. It was his rookie major league season in 2012 when he started the wild card game against the Baltimore Orioles at Globe Life Park and allowed three runs, including one unearned, in the first inning of a 5-1 loss.
“I think I’m physically and mentally stronger,” said Darvish.
A year ago, Darvish was forced to watch his club go five games in the ALDS, unable to help because of Tommy John surgery. The Rangers’ starters in 2015 were Cole Hamels, Yovani Gallardo, Derek Holland and Martin Perez. Hamels also pitched Game 5.
Darvish is 3-2 with a 2.45 ERA in seven starts against the Blue Jays. The last time he faced them was July 18, 2014 in Toronto. He allowed one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. The Jays’ lineup is now completely different, but one of the few holdovers is Jose Bautista, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
“I know I wanted to pitch,” Darvish said of watching last season’s playoffs. “This year I’m physically healthy and I’m ready. So I’m happy about that.”
Banister isn’t concerned about Darvish being too amped for his second postseason start.
“These are settings that are electric,” he said. “There are going to be emotions and players need to be able to play within their own emotions. Just don’t be emotional about it.”