Cubs News: Yu Darvish is officially the most valuable pitcher in baseball

Cubs starter Yu Darvish delivers a pitch. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Cubs starter Yu Darvish delivers a pitch. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Per Fangraphs, Cubs starter Yu Darvis h is baseball’s most valuable pitcher.

It hasn’t been an easy journey to get to this point for Yu Darvish. His first year with the Cubs after signing a massive six-year, $126 million contract was a complete loss. He made just eight starts before being shut down for the rest of the year.

Darvish battled control issues early in 2019, as well, before settling in and flipping a switch down the stretch. He was near-unhittable and pinpointed his entire arsenal flawlessly, evidenced by his 118-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the second half. A fluke? No chance. Need more proof? Look at what he’s done so far this season.

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On the heels of his latest outing, a one-run, six-inning effort in which he struck out seven, Darvish sits at 4-1 in his first five starts with some truly outstanding peripherals: a 0.900 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9 and 0.3 HR/9 – culminating in a 1.80 ERA and 2.01 FIP. The secret to his success? Slowing things down and taking it one pitch at a time.

"“I’m a slow guy — when I was in Japan,” Darvish told “After I came here, a lot of guys want me to throw [as] quick as possible. And that didn’t work for me. When I focus on that, I can’t focus on my pitch.”"

We’ve definitely seen how impactful Darvish can be when he’s taking things one pitch at a time and really gets comfortable on the mound. He’s an entirely different pitcher. Early in 2018, we saw him rushing at times, especially in tight spots. Now, he’s slowing the game down – and he’s back to being one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Per FanGraphs WAR, Darvish leads all MLB pitchers in WAR (1.3) heading into the Cubs’ off-day on Thursday, tied with the Indians’ Shane Bieber and Zack Greinke of the Astros. Hitters have looked totally overmatched – and every five days, you feel really good about Chicago coming away with a win behind the four-time All-Star.

"“From the conversations I’ve had and what I’ve seen,” David Ross said after his latest start, “Yu Darvish being free to be himself is the magic formula. This guy can really do a lot of things with a baseball and follow a game plan.”"

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That’s putting it mildly. Although Jon Lester and Alec Mills were solid in the early going, some of the outlying numbers (and Mills’ recent struggles) have led to their numbers leveling off a bit.  Meanwhile, Darvish keeps plowing along – ready to carry the team back to the postseason this fall.