Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish has been trending in the right direction

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

To this point, Yu Darvish has made a total of 10 starts for the Chicago Cubs. In his last five outings, he’s become a pitcher this team can rely on moving forward.

Since April 27, you could almost say Yu Darvish is starting to look like the guy the Chicago Cubs thought they were getting when they signed him two winters ago. He looks like he’s becoming more confident and comfortable every time he steps on the mound as he’s now rattled off four strong starts in his last five outings.

At times, he has looked dominant on the mound, racking up a high number of strikeouts in the process. Over his last 25 1/3 innings, Darvish has struck out a total of 37 batters which comes out to a 13.1 strikeout-per-nine ratio. Over that time, his stuff has looked much better and he has accumulated 63 swinging strikes.

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Darvish looked the most unhittable in his latest start against the Philadelphia Phillies. On a pitchers’ night, he struck out seven batters, five of which went down swinging, as he racked up 15 swinging strikes. The right-hander continued to dominate the game in the fifth inning when he struck out three batters in a row following a leadoff single.

In Darvish’s previous start against the Cincinnati Reds, he struck out a season-high 11 batters in the contest. That’s also the most batters he’s struck out in his two seasons with the Cubs. Not only was his stuff electric in the game, but he showed much better control, not allowing a single free pass.

Lowering his walk rate is something Darvish has slowly been improving. In his last five starts, the four-time All-Star has walked 18 batters which equates to a 6.4 BB/9 ratio. I’m not saying that’s great by any stretch but it is at least a step in the right direction. On the bright side, between his 37 strikeouts and 18 walks, Darvish has a 2.1 strikeout per walk ratio, which is the highest it’s been as a Cub.

In these last five starts, this has been the best version of Darvish we have seen as a Cub. He has posted a 4.26 ERA and allowed just 12 earned runs, five of which came in one game. He has limited the amount of hard contact off him, as batters are only hitting .194 against him and have only connected on two long balls.

If we compare these numbers from his last five starts to his first five starts you can see a drastic improvement in Darvish’s performance. He’s lasted a few more innings while lowering his ERA and cutting down on both his walks and home runs allowed. He’s also struck out significantly more batters at the plate which in turn has lowered his FIP from 6.97 to 3.44.

Again, I’m not saying he’s all the way there yet but these numbers are very encouraging and show that Darvish is trending in the right direction. If he continues to turn in these types of performances he could soon be a reliable starter that helps put the Cubs starting rotation over the top.

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All in all, in Darvish’s last five starts, with the exception of one outing, he has shown much more promise. He has started to show the Cubs glimpses of the pitcher he was before arriving in Chicago. His numbers aren’t anywhere near when he finished second in the AL CY Young voting back in 2013 but he is keeping Chicago in games and giving them a chance to win.