Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish flying under radar as Cy Young candidate
Yu Darvish has an opportunity to stealthily represent the Chicago Cubs as a Cy Young candidate this season.
The reality of a Chicago Cubs truncated 2020 Major League Baseball season is bound to bring certain peculiarities. Many debates have arisen surrounding the possibilities of things in the game we have not seen in decades.
One interesting discussion is on the nature of starting pitching, and, more importantly, the likelihood that we may see some players in the talk about rising to the level of Cy Young quality performance. For the Cubs, that guy is Yu Darvish.
Darvish put together a much stronger second season in the Cubs organization in 2019. He stayed healthy, making 31 starts and pitched to a respectable 3.98 ERA, a much better number than the previous year’s 4.95 ERA. On the horizon of a much shorter season, is this the year Darvish himself quiets all the haters of the past and finishes as the National League Cy Young winner?
Chicago Cubs: Crunching the numbers
Overall the 2019 season was a solid season for Darvish. The veteran right-hander improved in almost every measurable category across the board. The strikeouts jumped above the thirty percent threshold, to 31.3 percent, and Darvish’s walk rate decreased to 7.7 percent, a four percent drop from the year prior.
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From July on last year, Darvish put together 88 1/3 innings of an ERA under three. His 2.95 ERA put him in the top fifteen starters across the game over that span, and his 36.5 percent strikeout rate was third best behind only Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. His 2.1 percent walk rate was the best in the game.
In terms of some more advanced statistics, Darvish ranked just behind Cole in xFIP, a statistic that measures a pitcher expected run prevention independent of his team’s defense. It includes the number of home runs they should have allowed based on the number of fly balls.
His 2.54 SIERA, another advanced stat which looks at ERA in a more contextual way of the pitcher’s overall skill and whether or not they had a successful season, was also just behind Cole and Verlander. Naturally, Darvish put together one of the best second halves of the 2019 season.
Chicago Cubs: What to expect in 2020
Last season versus the division across the whole year, Darvish posted a 3.87 ERA. He held opposing hitters to a .232 average and carried a robust 32.5 percent strikeout rate and a 3.9 percent walk rate, respectively. His xFIP was exceptional as well.
Regarding the remainder of the opponents the Cubs will face this year due to the geographical barrier, he has not faced the American League Central for a few years. It should make things interesting and give him a leg up.
His newest pitched, dubbed “The Supreme” is a hybrid mix of a two-seam fastball and a splitter. It would be the seventh pitch to his already impressive arsenal and seems to be one who can get a lot of swings and misses and a lot of hitters out.
The ultimate goal for Darvish is to put together a second straight, healthy season. Beyond that, there is no limit for the 33-year-old, and starting where he left off from last season would immediately put him on the road to winning the National League Cy Young in 2020.