Chicago Cubs: Five bold predictions for the 2019 season

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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish finishes as top starter

If you are someone who has yet to see what Yu Darvish has managed to accomplish upon his return to the mound this spring, I feel bad for you. Darvish has been gifted three starts through the spring and has certainly not disappointed. After four strong innings against the Texas Rangers in his last start, Darvish sits at 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 7 1/3 innings.

Before you argue sample size for the spring, it is essential to remember Darvish is returning from injury. Last season Darvish suffered a stress reaction on his pitching elbow. He also struggled with a triceps strain, effectively ending his season.

So far this spring, Darvish is rocking and rolling and ready to go. While he has taken time to adequately reacclimatize to the pitching mound, many encouraging signs have shown Darvish is on the correct track. He has unfortunately struggled with fastball command at points, however consistently registers 94-96 mph on the fastball and is showing his arm is once again healthy.

Coming into the new season, Darvish is already more confident and has been able to put that on display over the last month of spring training. Having not pitched in a regular season game since last August, you would not be able to tell anything was off with what he has done with his opportunity this year.

Per Fangraphs, Steamer projects Darvish to start 24 games, finishing 9-7, 3.76 ERA. Boldly projecting an ‘ace-like’ season for the Japanese right-hander, I’ll predict Darvish starts 31 games, finishing 16-9, 3.27 ERA and ends his year as the clubs top starting pitcher.