After three years of waiting to get another opportunity in the postseason, Chicago Cubs ace Yu Darvish looks to put the 2017 World Series behind him for good.
The Chicago Cubs begin their 2020 postseason run with the Marlins on Wednesday, and the series will mark Yu Darvish’s first postseason run with the team. Although Kyle Hendricks will get the ball in game one, Darvish’s game two start has a vital significance. It’s an opportunity for the team’s ace to finally put to bed the horrid demons that followed him from Los Angeles to Chicago.
While things have certainly gotten a lot better for Darvish as he just came off of a fantastic Cy Young caliber season, it was only a few years back that things looked grim for him. After making it to the 2017 World Series with the Dodgers (and smoking the Cubs on the way), Darvish had a nightmare play out: an ERA of 21.60 and two losses. While it now appears the Astros had a little help hitting Darvish, at the time, he was the target of Dodgers fans’ frustrations, and it upset him.
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Darvish’s struggles carried over to 2018 with the Cubs as he posted a 4.95 ERA in only eight games before being shut down with an injury. 2019 looked to be more of the same, until a fantastic second half in which Darvish posted 118 strikeouts and only seven walks with an ERA at 2.76. Now, he’s carried that momentum to the postseason, where he has a chance to flip the script and establish himself as a big-game pitcher.
Whether Hendricks wins or loses, Darvish’s performance could decide whether the Cubs move on or get eliminated. A Hendricks loss puts significantly more pressure on Darvish to shove, but either way, it’s an opportunity for him to show the world that he can pitch on a big stage with the pressure on. It’s only the first round and not the World Series, but coming into the postseason and dominating in his first appearance since 2017 will be a significant confidence boost.
Moreover, it would add a fitting bookend to the first half of Darvish’s stint with the Chicago Cubs and a great way to forget the nightmare that transpired between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018. It’s safe to say that Darvish has redeemed himself in the eyes of the fans, and he’s pitching with extreme confidence in his ability. Now, he gets to take that final step to shut the door on the worst chapter of his career. I’m happy for him.