ARLINGTON, Texas -- As the Texas Rangers know well, having the edge on paper doesn't necessarily translate into a win. But there's little doubt that when it comes to starting pitching for Friday's AL wild-card game, the Rangers have the advantage.
The Rangers send Yu Darvish to the mound. He's been the club's best pitcher the last seven weeks and he'll get a chance to show his stuff in the postseason. The Orioles will send either Steve Johnson or Joe Saunders to the mound. Saunders hasn't pitched well in Arlington and Johnson, a rookie with four starts, is dealing with a sore knee.
But besides the pure numbers that favor Darvish, so does the fact that the Orioles have never faced him. That's a big deal. Why? Because Darvish has pitched very well against teams he's seen for the first time. He is 10-3 with a 3.12 ERA against teams he's pitched against for the first time this season (95 innings pitched). Darvish has 108 strikeouts and 41 walks in those outings as well.
The last team to face him that hadn't seen him all year was the Tampa Bay Rays, who made a charge at the wild card late in the season. Darvish threw seven shutout innings against them in Arlington in August.
So besides the fact that Darvish is working on eight straight quality starts and a 2.35 ERA with opponents hitting just .176 in those starts, he's got the added bonus that the Orioles hitters have only seen film of him. On paper, at least, that should be a big edge.