Chicago Cubs: Darvish pitched better than his line indicates
There’s not much to say about Cole Hamels‘ clunker on Thursday. The offense bailed him out after the veteran southpaw failed to reach the fourth inning. It was just his second start back from the IL, so I’m not putting too much stock into his struggles.
That being said, it was pretty clear he did not have it in the series opener. Hamels allowed five runs, four of which were earned, walking a pair and striking out two. The real story pitching-wise from Thursday came in the form of Tyler Chatwood, who turned in three scoreless innings, striking out five and picking up his fifth win of the year.
On Friday, right-hander Yu Darvish pretty much maintained what he’d been doing on the mound. He struck out nine and did not walk a batter, extending his ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio. Since July 3, he’s put up a 53-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio – but he’s won just two of those seven starts, with the team going 3-4 in that stretch.
Despite allowing only four hits across six innings against the Reds, one glaring problem presented itself: three of those four hits left the yard. This tied his season-high, as he also allowed three long-balls back on May 25 against, you guessed it, this same Cincinnati ballclub.
"“He had really good stuff,” Maddon told MLB.com. “Home runs hurt us, hurt him tonight, but gosh, he was really good again. Pitch efficient. Exceptional stuff. We got beat by the 2019 homer today. That’s just all there was to it. He threw the ball really well.”"
The Japanese-born hurler has struggled with the home run all year. While his FIP (4.75) and ERA (4.43) aren’t where you’d like them to be, if you look at his xFIP, which adjusts his home run rate to 10.5% of fly balls induced, it falls dramatically to a much more palatable 3.85.
So while he’s dramatically cut back on the walks and is pounding the zone with great regularity, Darvish will have to find a way to keep the ball in the yard if he wants to take the next step.