Chicago Cubs: No. 34: Yu Darvish
Yu Darvish came to the United States in 2012, signing with the Texas Rangers, and instantly became a star. In 2013, he finished second in AL Cy Young Award voting. He was the Chicago Cubs’ big offseason prize prior to the 2018 season, as the team signed him to a big six-year contract. It was a controversial move, and though it took a while, the move finally started to pay off in the second half of the 2019 season.
In 2018, Darvish was limited to just eight starts due to injuries. While he was on the mound, he still was striking out batters at a tremendous rate of 11 per nine innings, but he battled command issues and ended up posting a 4.95 ERA. Darvish was healthy in 2019 but struggled with command in the first half, walking a whopping 49 batters while giving up 20 home runs in 18 starts, leading to a 5.01 ERA.
Yet Darvish makes this list on the strength of his incredible second half, in which he suddenly found the strike zone, walking just seven batters while striking out 118 in 13 starts. Overall, his second half ERA was 2.76.
With a great second half of 2019, there is hope that Darvish has turned a corner and will be a big contributor to the Cubs’ starting rotation in 2020 and beyond.