Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish arrives to Spring Training early

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

There haven’t been many good things to say about Yu Darvish since signing with the Chicago Cubs but he’s giving fans some optimism heading into 2019.

Earlier this week marked the latest ‘positive’ Yu Darvish moment when he posted on his Instagram Story a video of himself at the Chicago Cubs Spring Training facility in Arizona.

Yes, Darvish has arrived early to Spring Training and I’m absolutely here for it. Every last Cubs fan should be here for it, actually. After an abysmal debut season (4.95 ERA/4.86 FIP) for the righty, Darvish could be primed for a big year with the Cubs in 2019. The question remains is if he can stay healthy.

There weren’t many highlights, per se, when it came to Darvish last season. Fans debated his slow start in 2018 was because he was still dealing with the mental effects of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series where he took the loss against the Houston Astros. He said he thought about retirement. There was a report he had lost respect in the locker room while also being called soft. A handful of failed rehab starts later and here we are, wondering what (or even if) he’ll be able to contribute in 2019 for the Cubs.

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With most of the talk this offseason surrounding the Cubs regarding a rumored budget crunch and fairly insignificant roster additions, news around Darvish has been quiet. However, he did post on his Instagram a photo of him throwing on December 24.

Other than that, it’s been fairly quiet on the Darvish front, but it can get loud again if he experiences another setback before Opening Day. The Cubs know they’ll already be without reliever Brandon Morrow for the first month of the season. While the team has rotation depth, it’d be disappointing to see Darvish start the season with an injury, especially one the Cubs can’t exactly explain similar to last season.

That said, he’s healthy, or at least it seems like he’s in good health. The front office has remained consistent in saying he should be ready to go on Opening Day. Cubs fans can only hope.

However, think about this: The Cubs won 95 games in 2018 with little to no help from Darvish. When the front office brought him in, they were hoping he could become one of their premier pitchers at the top of their rotation. So, instead of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, maybe the Cubs need a full season from Kris Bryant and Darvish – both of whom battled major injuries last year.

If Darvish can give the Cubs 30 starts, the potential for success looms in my eyes. Right now, he’s probably the club’s fourth starter, but depending on how the season plays out, barring injuries from other starters or a subpar season from one of the others, he could be their best by season’s end.

It all comes down to health for the veteran right-hander.

Take social media with a grain of salt all you want, but you have to love Darvish arriving to camp early. It’s an added bonus that he will be at the Cubs Convention, which will have a different vibe to it this year with a frustrating end to last season and quiet offseason the Cubs forced fans to deal with at this point.

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Darvish seems ready for any questions that may be thrown at him. But is he ready to take the ball?