It’s time for Chicago Cubs fans to appreciate Yu Darvish

(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /
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Yu Darvish has pitched remarkably well lately – and on Saturday, he turned in the best start of his Chicago Cubs career against his former ball club.

As happy as Chicago Cubs fans were to see the team edge out a much-needed win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, there was no one more thrilled than right-hander Yu Darvish. Although he didn’t come away with a win personally, there’s little doubt that Saturday’s contest marked a big step for him.

"“Yu talks about what’s going on in there. He doesn’t hold back,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com after the game. “He knows that he had to get by certain hurdles, and I love the fact that he addresses them straight up. He does not sidestep them. He doesn’t tap-dance them. Highly accountable.”"

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Darvish turned in his best start as a Cub, twirling seven innings of one-run ball. He allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in his first start at Dodger Stadium since getting absolutely shelled in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series as a member of the Dodgers.

After shutting down the Cubs in the NLCS, Darvish reportedly tipped his pitches in the World Series against Houston, ultimately costing Los Angeles a shot at their first championship since 1988. In that fateful Game 7, he lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowed five runs – something Dodgers fans certainly haven’t forgotten.

Of course, the following offseason, Chicago signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract. The first year of said deal was forgettable, to say the least, but 2019 has been an altogether different story. With each passing start, the right-hander is looking more and more like the guy who finished runner-up in the American League Cy Young race back in 2013 with the Texas Rangers.

According to MLB.com, Darvish carries a respectable 3.86 ERA and has punched out nearly 30 percent of hitters – a testament to how good his stuff is when he throws with confidence. Despite what many may think after last season, this guy absolutely has the ability to go head-to-head with any pitcher in the game.

Chicago has slotted him in the middle or back of the rotation all year, which has lessened the pressure, to an extent. But with Kyle Hendricks hitting the shelf with a right shoulder injury, it may be time for Darvish to take that next step and build off Saturday’s dominant outing.

"“This was really important in my life,” Darvish said. “I think now I can move forward. I pitched good here.”"

Next. Cubs still searching for an impact left-hander in the pen. dark

I’m not saying we’ve seen the last of Yu Darvish’s struggles. But I don’t think we can even begin to quantify how meaningful this start against the Dodgers is to him moving forward and focusing on doing something he couldn’t do in Los Angeles: help bring home a World Series championship.

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