Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish had a tough time Saturday, but so did others.
Opening Day was a glistening bright spot for the Chicago Cubs during such a crazy year. Fans couldn’t have asked for better than beginning the shortened season against a divisional rival.
Game 1 saw the Cubs and Brewers sputter out to just a handful of runs total, but Chicago did enough behind homers from Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo to win by a score of 3-0. The star of the show was Kyle Hendricks, who put on a dazzling, historic performance Friday night.
While Hendricks became the first Cubs pitcher to earn an Opening Day shutout via complete game since 1974, fellow starting pitcher Yu Darvish would struggle in the team’s second game of the season.
Saturday afternoon, Darvish started a bit slow out of the gate. Through the first two innings, he was already up to 46 pitches. Funny enough, Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes was actually sitting at 47 pitches through the first two innings. It was a slow grind to begin the outing for each pitcher.
After seeing multiple base runners in both the first and second inning, though, Darvish settled down in the third when he struck out the side.
Once again in the fourth inning, we saw a shift from Darvish, and this time it was back the other way. Darvish unraveled in the fourth inning, giving up a 2-run triple to Ben Gamel with zero outs — this immediately after we saw him toss a wild pitch.
Darvish was done after four, giving up three runs, and in came Duane Underwood Jr., who gave up a solo shot. Following Underwood, the Cubs brought in Brad Wieck. A familiar foe, Christian Yelich, took Wieck deep on a 2-run home run to make the score 6-3 in favor of Milwaukee.
Then, it was James Norwood who gave up three hits and two earned runs in the seventh inning, while failing to snag a single strikeout. Those two runs made it 8-3 Brewers, and the Cubs couldn’t rally beyond that point.
While it is fair to point the finger at Darvish for a sluggish first start, he also didn’t make it too far long into the game and David Ross was forced into going to the bullpen much earlier than he’d like to.
The bullpen — that’s going to be the Cubs’ Achilles heel this season. It’s a pen that looks much different than it did last year, since the team lost a few pieces via free agency and the Cubs brass decided not to spend.
Fans were frustrated over the lack of spending, especially when it came to relief pitching — and it looks like they will continue to be frustrated, if we’re going off what we saw Saturday. It is only one bullpen sighting, but it wasn’t pretty.
Darvish can very well be better than he was, but the pen has to follow suit. This is going to be the same old song and dance for the Cubs if they don’t improve.