Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish’s first spring evaluation

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Yu Darvish made his Cactus League debut with the Chicago Cubs. Spring Training may not mean a whole lot, but it is worth looking at Darvish’s performance no less.

There was much anticipation for the Chicago Cubs debut of Yu Darvish in Mesa Tuesday afternoon. Ironically he was facing the team he pitched with last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was initially supposed to pitch last week but missed his start due to a stomach virus.

Sure, the first start of spring ball is not a make-or-break assignment, but there are things to look out for. When it comes to pitchers like Darvish, fastball velocity is one of the biggest things observe. Command is another one, though this is the time command is worked on so it is not always fully there.

Darvish’s first start overview

When Darvish took the hill at Sloan Park, Cubs beat writers were ready to document his every pitch. His first inning of work was odd, he walked two guys (including two wild pitches) and struck out the side all swinging. He did give up a run, and that was on his second wild pitch that scored Chris Taylor who walked to lead off the game.

His second inning of work was a 1-2-3 inning which included a pop-out, fly-out and his fourth strikeout to end the frame. Two innings was all he went, as expected, and finished with a line of 2 IP. 0 hits, 2 walks, four strikeouts, one run, two wild pitches. Nothing was hit hard, and only two balls were put in play.

ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reported his fastball was hitting 95 mph, which he was able to use to strike out the side in the first. He used an off-speed pitch to record his fourth strikeout, so good to see him mix it up a little as well. Overall this was a good way to kick off the season for Darvish. He was able to gain control of himself after some early wildness and threw for good velocity.

Few more notes from the game

While Darvish was the main focus, it was also good to see the offense explode in the first inning. They scored six runs and batted through the entire order. Highlights included RBI singles from Willson Contreras and Addison Russell, followed by an RBI double by Javier Baez and a two-run shot from Albert Almora Jr.

Next: Happ checking all the boxes

Ben Zobrist was the leadoff hitter in this ballgame. He batted twice in the first and unfortunately did not get on base. Rust with him was expected however and at least his is back in action again.