Chicago Cubs: Yu Darvish settles down, gets win vs. MIA

(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
(Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish pitched fairly well in Miami, but there’s still some areas where fans should be concerned.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish pitched well against the Marlins after starting off the game really shaky. He had a scoreless first inning, but walked two batters in the second inning. One run would eventually score on a Javier Baez throwing error attempting to turn a double play. After all was said and done, Darvish pitched 5.2 innings allowing just two earned runs while striking out eight batters.

It marked the first time this season that Darvish pitched more than 5.1 innings. He flashed some serious heat on his final three pitches, hitting 98 mph, 99 mph, and 99 mph. The last pitch hit Lewis Brinson and that was enough for Joe Maddon to go to his bullpen.

After allowing a solo home-run to Marlins catcher, Chad Wallach in the bottom of the fourth inning, Darvish was able to retire the final seven of ten batters, striking out four of them. He did walk four batters and that’s the area of concern for me. Darvish got away with poor fastball command against the Marlins. He relied heavily on his breaking ball, which was arguably the best it had looked on the young season.

Darvish threw just 57 of his 96 pitches (59.3 percent) for strikes in this game. This coming on the heels of his best performance against in the Pirates in terms of throwing strikes (68.8 percent). In four starts this season, Darvish is walking guys at an 18.0 percent clip. That’s well above his career walk percentage of just 9.2 percent (via fangraphs). Against better competition, the four walks Darvish had could have been costly. Fortunately for the Cubs, the Marlins are just not a very good team.

He is also allowing nearly double the home runs this year compared to his career average, 4.8 percent to 2.8 percent. Over a nine inning game, that is 2.3 home-runs per game, easily the worst of his career. When Darvish was first signed by the Cubs, much of the media referenced his strikeouts-per-nine (K/9) innings, which at the time was historically among the best. In 2019, Darvish is averaging 7.5 (K/9).

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It’s plain and simple. He needs to be missing more bats, which is directly attributed to both his increased home-run rate and decreased K/9. That’s what the Cubs paid him all this money to do. The season is still early, and yes, Darvish did settle down and get the win in Miami, but he has yet to show that he can be dominant in a Cubs uniform.