Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish to make first Spring Training start

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

All eyes will be on Yu Darvish as he starts his 2019 campaign on Tuesday with his first start of Spring Training.

It’s safe to say that Chicago Cubs Yu Darvish is ready to put his 2018 season officially behind him.

On Tuesday, he has the chance to do just that when he opens his second season with the Chicago Cubs, starting against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Sloan Park on Tuesday at 2:05 CT. It will be the first time he takes the mound in game action since May 20, 2018, when he made his last start of the 2018 season.

This start is Darvish’s opportunity to start anew with a clean slate. And while fans are sure to be tuning in to see what he’s done with his mechanics, according to an article by Jesse Rogers of ESPN, Darvish has said he doesn’t feel as much pressure as he did last season.

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No pressure?

It makes some sense that Darvish wouldn’t feel pressure going into 2019. After his 2018 campaign fell flat, people don’t necessarily expect much of him. But if he does come out strong and become a contributing member of the rotation, he could be a game changer for the Cubs.

There’s been plenty of talk surrounding him, from the social media posts of his training and bullpen sessions to his decision to do interviews in English rather than using a translator as he has in past seasons.

But in reality, we can’t know anything about how far he’s come until he’s in action on the mound Tuesday. Will his mechanics have improved under the tutelage of new pitching coach Tommy Hottovy? Will his injuries be fully behind him, or will it be more like his rehab starts last season, after which he was never able to make a full comeback from his injuries? Tuesday’s start will provide more clarity on all of these issues, though it’s still not necessarily the be-all-end-all.

A look at last year

Tuesday’s start is a clean slate for Darvish, as he looks to prove himself after more than nine months without any game action. But as everyone knows, Spring Training results aren’t everything. A look at Darvish’s 2018 Spring Training shows that.

Last season, Darvish started strong in the Cactus League. He made five starts and went 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 19.1 innings of work. By all accounts, this could be seen as a positive start to his time as Cub. Then, the regular season happened, when he went 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA and made just eight starts before being sidelined with an injury on May 20.

So, how much can Tuesday’s start do for Darvish? Given his circumstances, it’s still an opportunity to show the changes he’s made and prove he’s back to full health. All eyes will be on him as he starts his second season in a Cubs uniform with high hopes to make it better than the last.

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Darvish has an opportunity to get off on a clean slate, starting Tuesday. If he has a stellar 2019, all can be forgiven. But if he struggles again, critics will continue to lament his signing as one of the worst for the Cubs under Theo Epstein.