Yu Darvish will make his second start of the season Friday night against Houston at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
And that stacks up nicely in favor of the Rangers.
Darvish has been nothing short of dominant in his six starts versus Houston during his young career. In his only loss against the 'Stros, he gave up five runs but only six hits. Outside of that start in July of last season, Yu has been phenomenal when facing Houston.
Darvish's career Lone Star Showdown stat line: (4-1), 43 IP, 2.72 ERA, 63 K, .149 OBA, .200 BABiP, 63.7 percent strikes
He has had two outings of eight or more innings in which he allowed only one hit, including being one out away from a perfect game on Opening Day last year.
The .149 opponent batting average is the second-lowest of the 17 teams Darvish has faced over the past two seasons, behind only Kansas City (.125). Remarkably, seven different teams have batting averages below the Mendoza line against the Texas ace, including four teams he has faced more than one time.
His rate of 4.50 strikeouts per walk against the 'Stros is the best ratio against any team Darvish has faced more than once. Yu has struck out 13.18 Astros per nine innings.
Darvish's 2.72 ERA against the Astros is nothing to sneeze at -- it's over half a run better than his career mark of 3.29 -- but outside of his one loss against them, that number stands at just 1.94 (eight runs allowed in 37 innings).
Yu's career game log in the Silver Boot Series:
June 15, 2012: 8.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 11 K, 1 BB
Apr. 2, 2013: 8.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 14 K, 0 BB
May 11, 2013: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 8 K, 3 BB
July 6, 2013: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 6 K, 4 BB
Aug. 12, 2013: 8.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 15 K, 1 BB
Sept. 24, 2013: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 9 K, 4 BB
Despite walking just over two Houston batters per game, he has pounded the zone with relative consistency. Yu has thrown an average of 69 strikes on 109 pitches per contest.
So my prediction for Friday night's game in North Texas?
A conservative guesstimate is that Darvish is going to put it in the strike zone, and the Astros won't be able to hit it. Although the Houston is an improved team, this is the kind of series a team like the Rangers need to take advantage of to get back to its winning ways.
If history is any indication, Darvish is the guy to get them going in the right direction Friday night.