Chicago Cubs: Monday night to test Yu Darvish’s psyche

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Monday night will be a fun one at Wrigley Field for Chicago Cubs fans.

If you are a fan of the Chicago Cubs, intrigue, drama, Major League Baseball, or all of the above, then buckle up because you’re in for a real treat. On Monday night at Wrigley Field, the Cubs will host the Philadelphia Phillies at 8:05 EST on the Major League Baseball Network.

Of course, this game was already destined for drama the moment Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies, rather than with the Cubs to play alongside his childhood friend, Kris Bryant. Whatever you believe the reason to be for the Cubs not ultimately inking Harper, most eyes will be on him when he takes the field Monday night.

However, there is another matchup that should draw a lot of intrigue, attention, and eyeballs. Obviously, I’m referring to the pitching matchup. For the Cubs, the much-maligned Yu Darvish will take the mound. Opposite Darvish will be none other than Cubs postseason hero, and former fan favorite, Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta, of course, was not offered a contract by the Cubs on par with what he perceived his value to be and so he bolted the Windy City prior to the start of the 2018 season for the City of Brotherly Love.

While Arrieta has had a very pedestrian season and change with the Phillies, he will forever be remembered by Cubs fans for what he did during the 2015 and 2016 regular seasons, but primarily for what he did in the 2016 postseason. He led the staff and team to a World Series victory, finishing the series with two wins.

Contrast that with the start Darvish has experienced to his Cubs’ career. Since it began, he has had any number of trials and tribulations. They have been primarily physical, but an understated component to the Darvish dynamic has been his mental makeup.

There have been countless reports about his mental toughness and how he is easily affected by negative press and fan opinion. In light of that, one has to wonder how he will fare on Monday night when the pitching equivalent of the ex-girlfriend Cubs fans never wanted to break up with comes to town.

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How will Darvish respond in the clearest juxtaposition between what he is and what fans want him to be? Arrieta — whether in performance, makeup or attitude — is everything fans want out of Darvish. Unfortunately, they have not gotten it. Monday night could be a huge step forward, or another foot deeper in the hole. We shall soon find out.