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#pounditFriday, October 30, 2020

Yu Darvish wonders if Astros could have been stealing signs on the road

Yu Darvish

The Houston Astros had great success against Yu Darvish in the 2017 World Series, and they attributed that to the right-hander tipping his pitches. While that may have been what happened, it seems like Darvish is even less convinced now than he was before.

In the wake of the bombshell report from The Athletic this week about the Astros stealing signs in 2017, many have wondered if sign stealing could have been a factor when Darvish gave up eight earned runs over two very brief starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series two years ago. One of those starts — Game 7 — came at Dodger Stadium, and the Astros supposedly only utilized their system for stealing signs at Minute Maid Park.

On Friday, Darvish sent a tweet hinting that he believes the Astros could have been stealing signs on the road as well.

Darvish may be a bit foggy on the alleged details. The system the Astros used involved a camera in the outfield that was focused on the opposing catcher, and the camera allegedly fed to a TV that was mounted between the home dugout and clubhouse. Players and staff members would watch the TV and bang on a trash can if an off-speed pitch was about to come. You can see some pretty clear video evidence of the system at work here.

The report Darvish is referring to claimed Houston’s bullpen catcher would relay signs to the hitter when the crowd at Minute Maid Park was too loud to hear a trash can banging. The catcher supposedly wore an ear piece and used his hands to signal which pitch was coming, but he still got the information from someone who was watching the TV near the dugout. Darvish was implying that a person in the outfield might have been stealing signals himself and relaying them to the hitter, which could also be done on the road. No one has accused Houston of that — at least to this point.

While Darvish didn’t blame his poor World Series outings on sign stealing and said he did not believe the Astros were employing those tactics at Dodger Stadium in Game 7, he did tell Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times this week that he was never fully convinced he was tipping pitches. Darvish said he reviewed video of his starts and couldn’t come up with anything definitive.

“What’s been reported up to this point is that they used cameras at their home field, so I don’t know if there was anything like that,” Darvish said. “But what they were doing was so high-level that I can’t honestly say there’s no chance they were also doing it on the road.”

Darvish’s initial reaction to the Astros story was to send a hilarious tweet, but you can’t blame him for wondering if he was a victim of the illegal system Houston clearly used at various points that season. All of Houston’s opponents from that year are going to feel similarly.

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