Justin Verlander started Game 2 of the World Series for the Astros on Wednesday. Now, Yu Darvish will start Game 3 for the Dodgers tonight.
• World Series Gm 3: Tonight, 7:30 ET air time | 8 ET game time on FOX
What's the connection?
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Simple. Both pitchers were in-season acquistions by clubs that were running away with division titles. They both were brought in because the Astros and Dodgers wanted to add another top-tier starter for the postseason.
And both teams got what they wanted -- veterans who have provided a postseason lift.
Verlander and Darvish easily fit into the list of the top in-season trades for pitchers since the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline was established in 1986.
However, Verlander was actually dealt on Aug. 31, minutes before the deadline for adding players to be eligible for the postseason. He has delivered for the Astros, going 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and 4-0 through five postseason starts.
Houston has won all five postseason games started by Verlander, who was named American League Championship Series MVP.
Darvish went 4-3 with a 2.44 ERA in nine regular-season starts for the Dodgers. Then, he beat the D-backs in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, capping the Dodgers' three-game sweep, and won against the Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS.
Darvish has allowed two runs over 11 1/3 innings in his first two starts this postseason.
Video: WS2017 Gm3: Darvish on starting Game 3 in Houston
Here's a look at some of the other top pitcher acquisitions made by teams during the season:
• Cole Hamels lost Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to the Blue Jays after he was acquired by the Rangers on July 31. However, he had a critical role in the Rangers reaching that point. They lost his first two starts, but won the next 10, as the Rangers went 38-22 over the final two months of the season to move from third to first in the AL West. Also, Hamels had a contract that gave Texas five additional years of control, ending with an option for 2020.
Video: TEX@TOR Gm2: Hamels fans six over seven strong
• The trade sending Doug Fister from the Mariners to the Tigers didn't get a lot of attention when it happened on July 30, 2011. But after going 3-12 with a 3.31 ERA in 21 starts for Seattle, he went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) for Detroit, playing a key role in the first of the Tigers' four consecutive AL Central titles.
• Cliff Lee was dealt from the Indians to the Phillies on July 29, 2009, as Philadelphia wanted to acquire an arm to help it try to repeat as World Series champions. The Phillies lost to the Yankees in the Series in six games, but Lee went 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA in five postseason starts, including earning both of Philadelphia's wins in the Fall Classic.
Video: WS 2009 Gm1: Lee dominates the Yankees
• CC Sabathia was acquired by the Brewers from the Indians on July 7, 2008, as then-Brewers general manager Doug Melvin wanted to make a trade well before the Deadline. The Brewers, who had made the playoffs just once in their first 39 years, were a half-game back of the Cardinals for the NL Wild Card at the time.
Milwaukee went on to earn the Wild Card, but then was eliminated by the Phillies in the NLDS. However, the Crew had no complaints about Sabathia. The left-hander went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, pitching seven complete games and three shutouts, and started three times in the final nine days of the regular season, allowing two earned runs over 21 2/3 innings.
• Randy Johnson was acquired by the Astros from the Mariners in a July 31, 1998 deal that worked out for both teams. Johnson went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA in 11 regular-season starts for the Astros, who extended their 3 1/2-game lead in the NL Central to 12 by the end of the season. Johnson took two losses in the NLDS against the Padres, despite allowing just three earned runs over 14 innings.
The Mariners acquired starters Freddy Garcia and John Halama and infielder Carlos Garcia in return, all of whom were key parts of their teams that made the postseason in 2000 and '01, the second of which won a Major League record-tying 116 regular-season games.
• David Cone was a successful midseason acquisition twice. Dealt by the Mets to the Jays on Aug. 27, 1992, for Jeff Kent, Cone filled out a rotation that helped Toronto claim the first of its back-to-back World Series titles.
Then, on July 28, 1995, the Jays shipped him to the Yankees. He went 9-2 with a 3.82 ERA in 13 regular-season starts for New York, then notched a win in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Mariners, who rallied from a 0-2 deficit to win the next three games and eliminate the Yankees from the postseason.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.