Cubs ace Yu Darvish fell short in his quest to win the 2020 NL Cy Young Award.
In 2015, Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta turned in a historically dominant campaign to earn the team’s first Cy Young nod since Greg Maddux in 1992. It was a miracle season that year in which the Cubs dethroned the Cardinals, eliminating them in the NLDS.
Arrieta, now with the Phillies, ended 2015 with a 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA, four complete games, three shutouts, one no-hitter, 236 strikeouts to just 48 walks and 0.86 WHIP across 229 innings.
From there on, more history would be written and curses lifted. To follow up Arrieta’s performance, both Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks tossed their names in the Cy Young hat in 2016, with Chicago accounting for two of the three finalists.
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It was familiar territory for Lester who had come close to while in the American League. As for Hendricks, it would be his first time. At the end of the season, Hendricks (2.13) and Lester (2.44) held the top two ERAs in the league.
Unfortunately for them, it wouldn’t go their way as it did for Arrieta. During their World Series run, Chicago’s southpaw and young professor finished second and third in Cy Young voting. Taking home honors that year would be Max Scherzer – a 20-game-winner who struck out over 280 batters in the process.
Jump ahead four years and the Cubs had themselves another starter in the Cy Young mix. For the second time in his career, Yu Darvish found himself near the top of the conversation. The Japanese-born right-hander was astonishing over the course of 12 starts during the shortened 2020 campaign.
In those 12 starts, Darvish finished with an 8-3 record, 2.01 ERA, 93/14 K/BB ratio, .211 average against and .096 WHIP. Those eight wins were a National League-best, tying him with AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber for most in the majors.
His quest, however, was a tough one. A neck-and-neck race featuring three of the National League’s supreme as Trevor Bauer and Jacob deGrom were both lights-out. Once the final points were tallied, it was revealed Darvish had fallen short yet again.
The eccentric Bauer received 27 first and three second-place votes, earning his first Cy Young. Behind him, Darvish picked up only three first-place votes, 24 second-place and two third-place tallies.
It was his best showing with the Cubs yet. Of course, his first campaign was brutal – as he labored through an injury-plagued year with a 4.95 ERA followed by a somewhat improved 3.98 mark in 2019, boosted by a strong second half.
While it’s tough to see a guy like Darvish fall short, it’s further validation the Chicago Cubs did not waste time or money on his services. Of course, in February 2018, Darvish signed a six-year, $126 million deal with an additional $24 million in incentives.
Despite stumbling through his first two years in Chicago, teams may be contacting the Cubs’ front-office in hopes of working out a swap. Would it be in the team’s best interest to trade Darvish following his shortened season performance?