Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish has been on a roll since last year. Can he keep it up?
Back after the 2018 season, many people were talking about how the Yu Darvish signing was a disaster. Of course, he signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Chicago Cubs in the prior offseason. After having a disappointing inaugural campaign that was cut shot by injuries, the outlook was bleak.
In that first season, Darvish only made eight starts because of an elbow injury. In those eight outings, Darvish was flat-out not good, posting a 4.95 ERA. Heading into 2019 it was clear that the big right-hander had to be better.
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The first half of 2019 was more of the same for Darvish in a Cubs uniform. In 18 games he went 2-4 with a 5.01 ERA, battling control issues. Then something changed in the second half.
He looked like a new pitcher on the mound. In 13 starts in following the All-Star Break, Darvish posted a 2.76 ERA with 0.81 WHIP, 2.2 percent walk rate and a 37.8 percent strikeout rate. It was good to see the strikeouts go up and the walks go down as the walks were what Darvish was struggling with the previous season-and-a-half.
Heading into 2020, everyone had one question on their minds: could Darvish replicate his late-season success from 2019? Obviously, now, we know he most certainly could.
Darvish was terrific this year for the Cubs. With many guys on the team having down years, especially offensively, Darvish had one of the better years of his career – erasing all doubts about his talent.
He posted a 2.01 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 12 games. It had that feeling during every Darvish start that the Cubs were going to be in that game no matter what the bat were going to do that day. Chicago was insanely lucky that Darvish and Kyle Hendricks had the years they did because if they didn’t the team probably doesn’t win the division – or even contend. Darvish was so good in 2020 that he earned the nod as a finalist for this year’s NL Cy Young award.
Now the question turns to 2021 and if he can keep it up. People were talking about how it was only 12 starts in 2020 and not to take it like it was an en entire season. But looking back to the end of 2019 it has been almost a full season of starts of Darvish a legitimate ace for this team.
Darvish is the Cubs’ big horse heading into 2021. With very limited resources available to flesh out the pitching staff, they’ll need him to be as good as ever if they have any chance of repeating as NL Central champs. Knowing that, I fully expect him to be up for the challenge yet again.