Ever since news of the blockbuster deal of the year broke right before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, all eyes have been on Los Angeles and its new star starter, Yu Darvish. Now the electrifying righty's tenure with the Dodgers is set to begin. Tonight's matchup highlights a packed 15-game slate that will have plenty of impact on the postseason chase, but no game will garner more attention than this showdown at Citi Field.
Darvish's first start in Dodgers blue comes tonight at 7:10 ET against the Mets, and it headlines a full slate of games, several of which pin contenders against one another. The Dodgers and Mets squared off in the postseason two years ago, but the Mets are not in the hunt for October this year. The Dodgers, on the other hand, already owned baseball's best record when they acquired Darvish, one of the most accomplished starting pitchers available.
"It is an honor to be here and to play for such a great team that is having a good season," Darvish said through an interpreter.
The righty figures to play a huge role with Los Angeles apparently headed to the postseason for the fifth straight year, but it's still eyeing its first World Series title since 1988. Darvish will be integral in complementing and lessening the workload of Clayton Kershaw, who is on the disabled list with a back injury. That makes Darvish, who had a 4.01 ERA in 22 starts for Texas this season, the de facto ace.
His first start comes against another ace, Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom, in what should be a marquee matchup in every way.
"This is my first time getting traded during the season, and I was worried a little bit if I could blend into the clubhouse and everything," Darvish said. "But the guys were really great, and I feel comfortable. I am looking forward to playing for the first time with the Dodgers."
Darvish, who owns a career 3.42 ERA over 122 starts with the Rangers in the American League, will wear No. 21. Dodgers second baseman Logan Forsythe sports No. 11, the number Darvish wore for five years with Texas.
"We have a very good group of players here, and coaches," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "He doesn't need to do anything different, as this is a very welcoming environment, and we just want him to be himself."
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Here's what else to watch for throughout the day Friday (all times ET):
A second pinstripe debut: NYY@CLE, 7:10 p.m.
After Sonny Gray made his Yankees debut Thursday, another new pitcher will make his first start in pinstripes tonight. That's Jaime Garcia, whom the Bombers acquired from the Twins a few days before the Deadline. Garcia (5-7, 4.29 ERA) is part of a revamped roster in New York after the Yanks added seven players via trades or promotions in the month prior to the Deadline. The Yankees are contending for the AL East now, and they'll look to prove so this weekend against the defending AL champions.
Wild Card preview? SEA@KC, 8:15 p.m.
What a weekend. It seems like everywhere you look, there are contenders playing one another. None of these matchups may mean more than Mariners vs. Royals, both of whom enter the weekend very much in the AL Wild Card picture. Kansas City and New York hold slim leads for the top two AL Wild Card spots, but Seattle may have something to say about that before the weekend is up. And they have July's AL Pitcher of the Month James Paxton (11-3, 2.68 ERA) on the hill tonight.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.