Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish unveils his newest pitch, dubbed ‘The Supreme’
Yu Darvish has yet another pitch in his arsenal because, of course he does.
Remember when Yu Darvish made just eight starts in the first year of his contract and most Cubs fans labeled him as one of the biggest busts in team history? Those days are gone.
His second-half run last season ranked as one of the most impressive we’ve seen (aside from Jake Arrieta’s otherworldly 2015 stretch). Darvish was beleaguered by control issues early in his time on the North Side, but last year, something changed – in a big way.
In 81 2/3 innings after the All-Star Break, the Japanese-born right-hander walked just seven batters, striking out 118. If you’re doing the math at home, that works out to a 16.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 13 punchouts per nine. That’ll do.
So what does Darvish do to build on that breakout stretch? He spends his downtime in Arizona waiting for the 2020 campaign developing an eleventh pitch to add to his already impressive and sometimes overwhelming repertoire.
He calls it ‘The Supreme’. When I first heard that, all I could think about was ordering at the drive-thru at Taco Bell (largely because a Crunchwrap Supreme is the go-to order, hands down). So what is it? It’s the lovechild of a two-seamer and a splitter and sits in the low 90s. And the movement? It’s incredible, to say the least.
If Darvish uncorks this thing to lefties? Good luck. Usually, a pitcher has three or four quality pitches. With this guy on the mound, there’s no way you can sit on anything because he’s capable of throwing any one of them at any given time.
Obviously, uncertainty reigns supreme in the game right now. We’ve all been focused on whether or not the league and the MLBPA will come to terms on a deal but a rash of COVID-19 outbreaks at several team’s spring facilities is as big, if not bigger of a concern for the sport. At some point, though, baseball will return – and for the Cubs, Darvish is a critical piece of the puzzle.
If the 2020 season is canceled, we may have seen the last of Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood and Jon Lester in a Cubs uniform. Which means the only familiar faces left in David Ross’ rotation are Darvish and fellow right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who inked a team-friendly extension last year.
These two form a big-time one-two punch atop the staff, with two starkly contrasting styles of pitching. We’ve been talking about the team’s position player core that seems likely to go its separate ways in short order – and what the next era in Cubs baseball might look like.
One thing’s for sure – Yu Darvish and his out-of-this-world pitch arsenal will play a pivotal role for the team this year and beyond.