Chicago Cubs: What the team needs from Yu Darvish in Milwaukee

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Using his cutter more effectively

Yesterday, I touched on how Jon Lester relied too heavily upon his fastball on Opening Day, leading to decreased effectiveness. You might make the case Darvish suffered a similar fate – although perhaps not to the same degree.

Last year between Texas and Los Angeles, the right-hander threw his cut-fastball just over 15 percent of the time. Over the course of his Major League career, he’s utilized that pitch just about the same amount – a flat 15 percent.

But in his season debut, he threw his cutter just under seven percent of the time- instead throwing his four-seamer more. Every single base hit in the Marlins’ fifth that chased Darvish came on, you guessed it, a fastball. Miami hitters had figured out the odds by that point and knew what to expect.

He also leaned heavily on his slider – using it for roughly four of every 10 pitches (a 14 percent increase over last season). And, yes, it was that same slider that Dietrich squared up for a monster two-run shot in the first.

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We’re talking about a guy with perhaps the most extensive repertoire in all of baseball. When he’s at his best, he’s mixing these pitches near-flawlessly. Let’s hope to see more of his off speed pitches used to keep hitters off his heater against the Brewers.