LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers can mark off another item off their postseason-preparation checklist after their non-waiver Trade Deadline acquisition, Yu Darvish, returned to form on Monday night in a 9-3 win over the Padres.
The Dodgers won their 100th game of the season behind Darvish's seven inning, one-run outing. Darvish's starts with the Dodgers have come with their share of highs and lows. The righty hasn't looked the same since his Dodgers debut, when he fanned 10 in a seven-inning outing against the Mets back in August. Getting him right for the postseason was key.
Darvish hit a funk, posting a 0-3 record in four starts from Aug. 16-Sept. 8, compiling a 7.85 ERA during that stretch.
Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt went back in the lab and tweaked Darvish's mechanics to fix his arm slot.
"I think a lot of the credit goes to Yu and his buy-in," manager Dave Roberts said about the mechanical changes. "Understanding what Rick was trying to do, the information we were giving him from upstairs and just trying to understand that and trust it. To his credit, he's done all of the above. It didn't start great for him. There was a transition, and you look at his last few starts, very good. Right now, he's in a pretty good place."
Darvish said things started to click for him in a start vs. San Francisco on Sept. 13, and he's felt comfortable with his new mechanics since.
The right-hander has hit a groove in his last three starts, allowing one earned run and 21 punchouts to go along with one walk. Darvish pitched against the Padres like the ace the Dodgers figured they were getting, showing fastball command and effectively used his four-pitch arsenal to record four perfect innings before allowing his first hit in the fifth, finishing the night with nine strikeouts.
"I think I'm in a really good position, physically and mentally," Darvish said through an interpreter. "What I wanted to work on from my last outing was pitch selection and get some more detail."
This was Darvish's last tuneup before the postseason begins next week, and Roberts is encouraged and relieved that Darvish has built momentum.
"We talk about starting pitching all the time and what it takes to win a championship," Roberts said. "It starts with the starting pitching and Yu is a big part of where we're trying to go. For him to get that confidence and throw the baseball, I think we can certainly be much more optimistic."
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.