Padres name Yu Darvish Opening Day starter

Jun 21, 2021; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) reacts after the last out of the top of the sixth inning was recorded against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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Padres Yu Darvish
Mandatory Credit: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

Yu Darvish will look to get the San Diego Padres off on the right foot, and Joe Musgrove could be rewarded for his 2021 season.

The Padres are starting to set their rotation with one week until Opening Day.

Yu Darvish will get the nod in Game 1 of the 2022 season on April 7 in Arizona. He’s the first Padres pitcher to make consecutive Opening Day starts since Edinson Volquez.

San Diego acquired Darvish last offseason from the Chicago Cubs. In his first season with the Friars, the 34-year-old posted a 4.22 ERA in 30 starts with 199 strikeouts. Darvish also earned his fifth All-Star bid.

The Habikino, Japan native was notably better in the first half of the season, pairing a 3.09 ERA with 125 strikeouts in 18 starts. However, his second half of the year paralleled the team’s overall downward trend, which saw the Padres go 26-43. In 12 starts after the All-Star break, Darvish went 1-8 with a 6.16 ERA while serving up 15 home runs.

Historically his best pitch, opposing batters were able to square up Darvish’s cutter to the tune of a .340 average and 10 home runs.

Padres manager Bob Melvin declined to offer more than the Opening Day starter. He hinted that Joe Musgrove could be rewarded for his strong season in 2021, which could lend toward the right-hander getting the nod in Game 3 of the year. Given how the rotation is set up, Musgrove would be in line to start the home opener against the Atlanta Braves.

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The 29-year-old San Diego native put together arguably his best season in the big leagues, tossing a 3.18 ERA in 32 starts while eclipsing the 200-strikeout mark for the first time in his career. Musgrove used his four-seam fastball less than ever before, relying more on his secondary pitches. His two best pitches, slider and curveball, yielded a .160 and .126 batting average, respectively.

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