Chicago Cubs: Can Darvish build on his dominant second half?
The 2018 season in which Yu Darvish made just eight starts before being shut down due to injury is a thing of the past at this point. Now, when you hear his name, you likely think of his slaying of Twitter trolls and his lights-out second-half run to cap off last year.
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Down the stretch last summer, the right-hander flipped a switch and starting hitting his spots in a historic fashion. Post All-Star Break, he put up a 16.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 0.808 WHIP in 13 starts. In one late season start, he came out firing bullets and while sitting in the stands, I found myself wondering if I was about to see Darvish take a run at Kerry Wood‘s 20-strikeout record.
That run obviously didn’t go unnoticed by first-year manager David Ross, either, who said earlier this week that his decision for Opening Day comes down to either Darvish or soft-tossing right-hander Kyle Hendricks.
I understand the argument for Darvish – I do. The right-hander was near-unhittable late last season and now that he’s settled in and comfortable in Chicago, he’s poised for a breakout campaign in 2020.
While a team’s Opening Day starter is largely a ceremonious designation, it still means something for players. And, while Darvish will be a critical – perhaps the most critical part of the Chicago starting rotation this season – his competition for the role, Hendricks, has simply done more to earn the honor.