The San Diego Padres will have to wait an extra day to see if Yu Darvish has benefitted from his time off to recover from lower back issues.
Darvish (7-3, 3.09 ERA) had his return pushed back for 24 hours when heavy rains forced the opener of the three-game series at Atlanta to be postponed on Monday.
The Padres and Braves are scheduled to meet Tuesday night ahead of a Wednesday doubleheader prompted by the rainout.
Darvish has not pitched since he allowed a season-high six runs in three innings on July 8 against the Washington Nationals. He left that game when his lower back and hip locked up on him and sent him to the injured list.
The 34-year-old right-hander also has been dealing with head congestion.
San Diego manager Jayce Tingler said the team isn’t asking Darvish to be a hero when he returns.
“What do we need out of him?” Tingler asked. “We just need him to be himself, not do anything more, not do anything less. I just need him to be himself, go out, continue working between the starts, pitch his game and try not to do too much.”
Those are some high standards. Darvish enters his 201st career start with 1,517 strikeouts. Only three other pitchers posted more strikeouts in their first 200 starts — Chris Sale, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan.
Darvish will make his fifth career start against Atlanta. He is 0-3 with a 6.62 ERA against the Braves, the highest ERA against any opponent that he has made multiple starts against. Darvish made two starts against Atlanta in 2019 as a member of the Chicago Cubs and allowed eight runs over nine innings.
Atlanta will counter Darvish with right-hander Touki Toussaint, who will be making his season debut. In six starts with three different minor league clubs this season, Toussaint is 2-1 with a 4.24 ERA.
In one career appearance against San Diego, Toussaint has a 27.00 ERA. Meanwhile, left-hander Kyle Muller, who was initially slated to start on Tuesday, will now start Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Padres.
In his latest start for the Braves on July 3, Muller allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Miami Marlins. He recorded seven strikeouts and issued four walks. Muller made two starts for Triple-A Gwinnett since then and limited opponents to two runs in 10 innings.
“He wasn’t as sharp as he had been, but he kept trying to make pitches, never gave in, kept us in the game,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said after the July 3 start. “I love the way he competed. It was very impressive for a young guy. He got a little adversity and kept the game in check.”
The Braves cleared a roster spot for Muller’s return by placing Ender Inciarte on the COVID-19 injured list, although the team stated that the center fielder tested negative for the virus. Inciarte must go through the league’s protocols before he is cleared to play.
Atlanta also recalled left-hander Sean Newcomb and optioned southpaw A.J. Minter to Triple-A on Monday. Newcomb pitched four innings and struck out nine during his time with Gwinnett. Minter took the loss against Tampa Bay on Sunday and saw his ERA soar to 4.86 after giving up two runs in one-third of an inning.
The Braves continue to look for answers for their ineffective bullpen. They have held a lead in 22 of their 47 losses this season, including both losses to Tampa Bay over the weekend.
–Field Level Media