Yu Darvish is healthy, but the Chicago Cubs should push his 2019 debut back until after the Opening Weekend series against the Texas Rangers.
Yu Darvish is healthy and seemingly ready to go for 2019 following offseason elbow surgery. And yet, the Chicago Cubs would be wise to make him their No. 4 starting pitcher, at least out of Spring Training. Before scoffing at this, allow me to explain my rationale.
Darvish had to exit his start on Tuesday after 4 2/3 innings due to a blister on his right ring finger. Before exiting, he had allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits, lowering his spring ERA to a sterling 2.25.
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Blisters can be bothersome to pitchers for an extended period of time, though Darvish is progressing well. In fact, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he thinks the right-hander is going to be fine, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian.
Opening Day is next Thursday, though Jon Lester will start against the Texas Rangers. With the Cubs off on Friday, the earliest Darvish could make his 2019 debut is Saturday.
Why not give the right-hander all the time he needs to ensure his blister is fully healed? Even if his blister is gone by next weekend, there’s no harm in having him get an extra few days of rest.
The Cubs can start the season with Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Cole Hamels. Maybe they go with Hamels and then Hendricks, depending on how they use the two over the next week leading up to the regular season.
Atlanta series could be awaiting Yu
After Texas, the Cubs will head to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves. Darvish could start April 1, which would give him a full two weeks to make sure the blister is right.
At the same time, it might be best for the Cubs to get Darvish back into action as soon as possible. If the blister is fine by the end of the weekend, why sit him out for nothing? The Japanese-born hurler is likely itching to get back onto the mound in a meaningful regular season game, following his tough first year with the Cubs in 2018.
If Darvish is truly ready to go come Opening Weekend, the Cubs should not hold him back. However, for the Cubs, ensuring he is healthy is the most important factor. There is no harm in that, right?