Cubs: Zach Davies is making it impossible to forget the Yu Darvish trade
When the Cubs made the controversial decision to deal their ace Yu Darvish along with catcher Victor Caratini over the winter, the return had many Cubs fans up in arms. After being one of the best starters on the planet for over a year and a half, Jed Hoyer and company could only muster extremely young and extremely inexperienced prospects in return. One name in return that received some buzz, however, was longtime Cub divisional foe, Zach Davies.
After being a relatively forgettable backend starter for Milwaukee, Davies had a career-best season in his one year in San Diego. He pitched to the tune of a career-low 2.73 ERA, had the best strikeout rate of his career, and was effective at inducing soft contact. With the way the Cubs want their staff to operate now, Davies was a perfect fit as his M.O. has always been to create soft contact.
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Expectations were lofty for Davies, but there were legitimate hopes that he could turn into a solid starter in Chicago. The Cubs have stressed repeatedly that they wanted their pitchers to pitch to contact and let the defense make plays. The results for Davies thus far, however, have been wildly disappointing.
Despite being a contact pitcher his whole career, Davies seems to be nibbling and lacking control this season. As it stands now, he has a 7.0 BB/9 which is by far the highest it would ever have been in his career. His strikeout rate has also dropped considerably and he’s sitting with an unsightly 2.130 WHIP and a bloated 8.22 ERA.
Meanwhile, to the surprise of no one, the man he was traded for, Darvish, has been absolutely lights-out early into his tenure in San Diego. With both the players and the teams involved in the deal going in opposite directions, it’s incredibly hard not to think about just how bad the deal looks for the Cubs so far. There’s still plenty to be seen from the prospects the Cubs got back in the deal of course, but it’s been very frustrating seeing what has unfolded this year.
Cubs have seen plenty of struggles across the board
Davies is not the only Cubs pitcher to struggle to start out the 2021 season, and there will likely be more struggles along the way, but what we’ve seen from the right-hander has been confounding. The former Brewers hurler is on track to have the worst year of his career and his savant numbers show he isn’t getting unlucky.
Davies has simply been walking too many batters, striking out too little, and getting hit incredibly hard. All of this comes in the midst of Darvish continuing his career renaissance on a Padres team with World Series aspirations.
Look. Davies is not the only man to blame for the Cubs’ early-season struggles, and it’s likely he along with other guys that are struggling, such as Kyle Hendricks, should have some positive regression to the mean. But it seems almost impossible that Davies can become even a fraction of what Darvish was on the North Side.
Hopefully, he figures out a way to turn things around in a hurry, otherwise, the Cubs’ rotation is going to continue to be the liability it has been as of late, rather than the asset it was early in the year.