Yu Darvish Is Turning It Around for the Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 09: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 9, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 5-2. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Tough Start with the Cubs

Yu Darvish signed a six-year deal with the Chicago Cubs on February 13, 2018, for $126 million. That season, an elbow injury limited him to just 40 innings over eight starts as he posted a 4.95 ERA. Needless to say, he was not getting off to a good start with his new team.

When the 2019 season came around, it was a chance for him to turn the page and pitch like we all expected to. However, while he was healthy, he struggled on the mound. Throughout the first half of 2019, the struggles continued. Darvish threw 97 innings and recorded a 5.01 ERA.

Is Darvish destined to be a black hole in this Cubs starting rotation? Can he put it together before it’s too late?

Things Are Looking Up for Yu Darvish (Maybe)

The month of July was a vast improvement for Darvish. Something finally clicked, and he began pitching to much better results than the first half. Over 30.2 innings pitched in July, he managed a 2.93 ERA and kept batters to a .204/.242/.354 slash line. His success was especially noteworthy due to Cole Hamels missing the entire month to injury. He stepped up when they needed him most.

The most surprising stat of all for Darvish is that his high walk rate from the first half has nearly vanished. Through the first half, he walked 49 batters and averaged 16 walks per month. In July he has walked just two batters. The key to his success clearly lies in controlling the number of walks he’s issuing to batters. If he manages to keep his walk rate down, he’ll more than likely continue this success.

Moving Forward

In Darvish’s first start of August against the Milwaukee Brewers, he threw five innings and only gave up one run — a solo shot from Ryan Braun. His high pitch count kept him from going deep into the game, but he managed to get the win. Even though his August got off to a good start, he ran into trouble in his second start of the month against the Cincinnati Reds.

Darvish took the loss yesterday in Cincinnati after throwing six innings and giving up four runs. His final line looks better than the end result, as he struck out nine, walked none, and only gave up four hits. But three of those hits managed to be home runs, something that Darvish has struggled with this year. He currently leads the NL with 26 home runs allowed.

Darvish was none too happy about the results yesterday, saying after the game: “No walks, nine strikeouts, only four hits. And three (expletive) homers. That sucks.” Keeping the home runs under control will certainly be something for him to conquer, just like he did with the obscene walk rate he had in the first half.

It may be too soon to say that Darvish has turned the corner. One solid month of pitching does not mean continued success. If the Chicago Cubs are going to come close to winning the division and making the playoffs, Darvish will undoubtedly have to pitch like they paid him too.

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