Chicago Cubs: Mixed results have fans worrying about Yu Darvish

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Three starts is all Chicago Cubs fans needed to decide what the next six years of Yu Darvish will look like. His latest outing has folks getting upset – really upset.

The Chicago Cubs won the offseason when they signed top free agent Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million. The move replaced the outgoing Jake Arrieta and simultaneously kept Chicago under the luxury tax threshold for 2018.

Mixed among a staff that features Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, at least on paper, the Cubs seemed poised to dominate the National League en route to a third-straight division crown. But 13 games in, the Cubs are 6-7 and looked lackluster way too many times this early in the season.

As goes the team, so goes Darvish. The Japanese right-hander struggled in his debut, followed it with a strong start and then labored through a four-plus inning effort on Friday at Wrigley Field. He kept the Atlanta Braves off the board early, but played with fire. When you play with fire, you get burned.

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To be fair, though, a questionable balk call from home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman set that decisive chain of events in motion.

"“The umpire told me it’s because I paused during the motion,” Darvish said after the game. “But over the course of my career, I’ve done that many times and it was never called a balk. Even [Freddie] Freeman told me it wasn’t a balk. Again – because it has never occurred and it was in a critical situation – that’s very frustrating.”"

Frustrations mount on the mound – and off

Frustrating is a good way to describe Darvish’s first three starts as a Cub. The stuff plays – there’s no doubt about that. When he’s ‘on’, he’s among the best in the game. But consistency is a major concern – and with good reason.

So far this season, Darvish carries an unsightly 5.17 FIP. Across his three starts, he totaled a mere 15 innings. On Friday, that one big inning unraveled the Cubs hurler – and with the offense as cold as the weather, there was little hope from there on.

"“Obviously, everything went south after the balk, which was not a balk. It was not a balk, but it was called a balk,” Maddon said. “It seemed to create a little bit of awkwardness. [Darvish] was doing well up to that point … then it came apart really quickly.”"

At the end of the day, the three-run homer falls squarely on Darvish. Regardless of the events that transpired leading up to the blast, he needs to deliver there. Period. He left a slider up in the zone and Preston Tucker unloaded on it.

It’s easy to level the blame for losses like Friday’s on Darvish alone. But the simple truth is this. When you don’t score runs, you don’t win games. The Cubs’ offense has the ability to set the pace for the entire club – and, so far, it’s been an unacceptable one.

Next: Three starts in, Cubs fans are done with Yu

Darvish will have his ups and downs. But when we look back on 2018, there will be more good starts than bad. So try to get past outings like yesterday’s and move forward – the same as the Cubs will.