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Dodgers turn to Darvish for Game 3

Kyodo, AP

Right-hander Yu Darvish will start in Game 3 of the World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday before practice at Dodger Stadium.

Roberts said Darvish will get the start Friday, when the series against the Houston Astros shifts to Minute Maid Park. Rich Hill will start in Game 2 at home on Wednesday. The Dodgers are starting Clayton Kershaw against Dallas Keuchel in Tuesday’s opener.

Darvish started Game 3 in both the National League Division Series and the NLCS this season and won both times. The 31-year-old will be appearing in the World Series for the first time.

He has a 1.59 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 11⅓ innings so far in the postseason.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is the first and only Japanese pitcher to start and win a World Series game, accomplishing the feat while playing for the Boston Red Sox in 2007.

Acquired from Texas at the trading deadline on July 31, Darvish is the Dodgers pitcher most familiar with the Astros. He is 5-5 in 14 career starts against them, including 1-1 this season.

Keuchel has never faced the Dodgers. Houston’s Justin Verlander, who will get the call in Game 2, beat Los Angeles on Aug. 20 with eight dominant innings, shortly before being traded from Detroit.

“It’s hard to dismiss the two guys at the top of the rotation,” Roberts said, also praising Houston’s “athleticism” and “ability to slug.”

The Astros showed off all facets Saturday night, beating the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game 7 of the ALCS.

The Dodgers haven’t played the Astros since 2015, when they dropped a three-game series at Houston. The previous time they met was 2012, back when Houston was still in the National League and stuck in the midst of three straight 100-loss seasons.

Boosted by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the Astros are now among the elite teams in the majors.

Hill also knows how quickly things can turn around. Wearing a hat that had a World Series emblem on the side, the 37-year-old reflected on where he was fairly recently.

In 2015, beset by injuries, no team in the big leagues wanted him and he wound up pitching for the Long Island Ducks.

“A couple years ago, I was using a bucket in independent ball as a toilet,” he said.

Not anymore.

Hill became a valuable member of the Dodgers’ staff, signed a rich contract and has helped them make it back to the World Series for the first time since 1988.

Like Hill, All-Star shortstop Corey Seager is expected to make his first World Series appearance. Seager got there a bit faster — at 23, a season after he was the NL Rookie of the Year.

Seager didn’t play in the NL Championship Series against the Cubs because of a back injury. But Roberts said team was “very confident” Seager was ready to return.

Seager hit .295 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs this year. He went 3-for-11 with four walks in the NL Division Series against Arizona, but tweaked his back during a slide in Game 3.

Charlie Culberson did well while filling in for Seager during the NLCS. Chris Taylor also saw action at shortstop against the Cubs and was the co-MVP of the series.

It is possible Seager could be the designated hitter for the Dodgers when the Series moves to Houston.

“In a perfect world, he would play shortstop and hit second,” Roberts said.