Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish actually pitched well against the Pirates

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs starter Yu Darvish had two bad pitches all night. Unfortunately, they resulted in three runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yu Darvish‘s third start for the Chicago Cubs in 2019 had mixed results on a frigid night at Wrigley Field. The temperature at the start of the game was 40 degrees. Prior to this game, Darvish had never pitched in a game in which the temperature was 40 degrees or lower (per Jesse Rogers).

In the top of the first inning, Darvish got both Adam Frazier and Starling Marte out fairly quickly. However, Cubs’ killer Francisco Cervelli hit a laser solo home run to the left field basket to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead. Coming into Wednesday night’s game, Cervelli had a career slash line against the Cubs of 0.291/0.367/0.463 with six home runs and 37 runs batted in.

Flash forward to the top of the third inning, Darvish hit the pitcher, Jordan Lyles, and Starling Marte sent a moon-shot to the left field bleachers two batters later. That made the score 3-0 and that was all Lyles needed as he struck out ten batters in six innings.

Darvish did not pitch poorly by any means. His stats will say he gave up five runs, four of those being earned. However, Joe Maddon pulled him after he gave up back to back infield singles in the top of the sixth inning with the Cubs trailing 3-1. Kyle Ryan came in and both runners ended up scoring.

Maddon has gotten a reputation of having a quick hook with his starters and this game was no exception. Darvish was only at 77 pitches, of which he threw 53 of those for strikes. In his previous two starts this season, he had trouble commanding his fastball. However, his stuff looked good against the Pirates as he got batters to swing at 69.1 percent of his pitches and 15.6 percent swinging strikes; both season highs (via Fangraphs).

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I would have preferred Maddon left Darvish in to see if he could have gotten out of it. He had not walked anyone, and I felt he deserved the opportunity. At some point, the Cubs are going to need to let their $126 million dollar man pitch deep into games, which will include getting out of jams. I thought given the conditions on the field and Darvish’s history in cold weather, he did a solid job. The offense squandered a few chances to put some runs on the board, so blame should be focused there rather than Darvish.