Chicago Cubs: Is this the day Yu Darvish puts it all together on the mound?

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Paired up against a lowly Miami Marlins offense, can Chicago Cubs hurler Yu Darvish take the first step toward returning to front-line starter status Monday?

I’ll admit. I’m one of the few who still have any reasonably high amount of faith in what Yu Darvish could be for the Chicago Cubs. Ahead of his season debut in Arlington a few weeks ago, I felt good about it. He was pitching in a park where he was comfortable, had great weather and it just felt like things were lining up.

I was wrong. He issued a career-high seven walks that day.  The next time out, he lasted just four innings and allowed three runs. Still, hardly what you expect from a guy who’s playing on a $126 million deal. His last time toeing the rubber, Darvish put together what can tentatively be called his best start in pretty much a year, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing four earned without walking a batter.

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Chicago has lost all three of his starts so far in 2019 – a trend they’ll try to buck on Monday against the Miami Marlins, a club that has a lot of questions and not very many answers a couple of weeks into the season.

Miami (4-12) could, once again, be the perfect opportunity for Yu Darvish to turn things around in a Cubs uniform. That could have happened in the Opening Series against the Rangers but didn’t. So, once again, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that Monday marks a new beginning for the team’s lanky right-hander.

Darvish has not fared well against Miami in his career – and that’s putting it mildly. He’s made just three starts against the Fish, but carries a bloated 7.94 ERA into Monday’s contest. Across those three outings, he’s totaled 17 frames, in which he surrendered 15 runs on 20 hits, striking out 19.

One of those starts came last year as a member of the Cubs, but it was a forgettable showing. He pitching into the fifth, allowing five earned and walking a pair in his Chicago debut.

The recent strong performances from both Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels certainly did a lot to assuage some of the underlying nervousness about the starting rotation. But Kyle Hendricks hasn’t gotten into a rhythm on the mound yet this year and Jon Lester is still working his way back from a hamstring injury that ended his last outing early.

For Chicago to climb back into the National League Central race, they’re going to need quality from Darvish. That’s not to say he needs to go be an ace, because that’s not the case at all. But with a bullpen that’s been notoriously shaky early (even costing the team a win on Saturday by walking in a pair of runs with the bases loaded), starters need to give manager Joe Maddon some depth.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The jury is still out on Yu Darvish. He’s made less than a dozen starts in a Chicago Cubs uniform – far too few to write the whole story. But the narrative so far is dismal and it’s up to him to start to write the next chapter on Monday night in Miami.