Chicago Cubs: This is the Yu Darvish we signed up for

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

It’s been a long road back for Yu Darvish, and slowly but surely, he is starting to become the ace the Chicago Cubs signed back in 2018

Theo Epstein has been the target of some recent heat generated by Chicago Cubs fans. When this teams’ flaws were exposed on the road, some of Epstein’s signings over the past two to three seasons come to light.

And fans wonder if maybe the roster just isn’t that good. However, Yu Darvish is headlining a group of Epstein’s acquisitions that are starting to pay huge dividends for this baseball team.

Darvish, along with other big-money signings in Jason Heyward and Tyler Chatwood, did the exact opposite of live up to the hype in 2018. Well, that, along with the 2019 offseason is in the past, and Epstein and his guys are starting to turn over a new leaf.

Without diving too much into it, the Cubs 2018 free-agent class is having a huge bounce-back year, and the front office has done their damage control with the 2019 group.

One of the most exciting late bloomers has been Darvish. Darvish has the fire, the likeability, and the potential to make him a fan favorite; the performance has just been missing.

Pretty important when there’s $126 million invested. Now we’re starting to see results from the Japanese-ace, and it’s fun to watch.

In five starts since the All-Star Break, Darvish is 2-1, with a 2.17 ERA, averaging 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings.

To show some perspective, Chris Sale has the highest strikeout-per-nine-inning ratio of all-time at 11.04.

After the rough first half where he sported a 5.01 ERA, Darvish has his season earned-run-average down to 4.36, finally over the hump and above the National League average ERA of 4.40.

He has the makings of an ace, and while it’s taken some time to come to fruition, Darvish is starting to look like one. One of the reasons I believe he is starting to blossom is the rotation around him.

The Cubs have the seventh-ranked starting rotation in all of baseball in terms of ERA at 3.86. With the four stars in Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, and Cole Hamels surrounding Darvish? There’s a feeling of comfortability knowing he doesn’t need to be this teams ace.

Sure, we know that’s his goal and won’t settle for anything less. But having this group of veteran star-power to feed off, taking the hill every fifth day makes it easier to lock in and trust your stuff.

It’s also important to note that Darvish is one of the members of this team that has not won a championship. Having this extra drive and motivation sheds some great perspective around this core.

We know he wants to get back there after his Game 7 start in the 2017 Fall Classic ended in heartbreak, and this only adds more fuel to the fire.  Darvish is earning more trust each time he takes the hill, and if he continues this excellent roll he’s been on, I would have no problem giving him the ball for a chance to redeem himself in October.

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Darvish, along with Heyward, have become two of the Cubs most important players in 2019, making their big paychecks more than worth it. If someone told me that last year, I would look at them like they were crazy.

Finally having these stars playing at their full potential, the rest of the division is going to have a tough time surpassing this team down the stretch. Not only that, the Cubs have themselves two strong candidates for Comeback Player of the Year.