Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish nearing return to MLB action?

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

Yu Darvish pitched in yet another simulated game on Tuesday. Could he finally be nearing a return to game action for the Chicago Cubs?

Could the return of Yu Darvish finally be upon us?

Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs’ prized offseason acquisition threw a simulated game that could be a precursor to a minor league rehab start. Darvish threw about 50 pitches, and Cubs’ president Theo Epstein said a rehab start is the next step.

"“We will see how he feels tomorrow,” Epstein said. “He looks like he is ready for the next step, which would be a rehab start. I think it’s a process. We will see how he feels. It’s been a long road back, so there is no point rushing it now. We probably only have one chance to get this right, considering where the calendar is at. That is the priority.”"

Implications of Darvish’s return

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There is much to make of this, but the bottom line is Darvish could return to the Cubs this month in time for the final stretch of the regular season. And boy, does the team need him now more than ever.

The Cubs are 13-12 since the All-Star Break; their starting pitchers have pitched six innings or more in just 10 of those 25 games. The team’s record is an outstanding 8-2 in that span.

Basically, the Cubs fare extremely well when their starting pitchers pitch deep into games. They have not done that as of late, but one has to wonder if a rejuvenated Darvish could energize a starting rotation when it needs it the most.

Hamels’ ultra boost

A prime example of this is what Cole Hamels has done since joining the Cubs around the trade deadline.

In three starts with the Cubs, Hamels is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. He has allowed just 11 hits, striking out 20 batters compared to just four walks. Opponents are hitting .177 against him, and he holds a ridiculous 0.830 WHIP.

One should not expect Darvish to deliver results completely similar to what Hamels has done. Still, any positive performances from Darvish would help the Cubs pitching staff dearly.

Anything positive from Darvish would help

Whether he needs one rehab start or several is to be determined. Epstein said there is no point in rushing a return now after the long ordeal that has been Darvish’s recovery. After all, he has not pitched in an MLB game since May 20.

Based on the fact that he threw 50+ pitches in Tuesday’s simulated game, though, common sense says Darvish could make a rehab start next week. From there, it is not out of the realm of possibility to see him pitch in one more rehab game and then return before Sept. 1.

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At this rate, the Cubs probably are hoping to get any ounce of production from Darvish before the 2018 regular season ends. If things continue to go as well as they have for him, though, one should expect to see him on an MLB mound very soon.