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Cubs News/Notes Recap and Analysis Spring Training 2018

Yu Darvish Effectively Wild in Cubs Debut

The Chicago Cubs' prized offseason acquisition, Yu Darvish made his long-awaited spring debut on Tuesday afternoon against his former ballclub, and he didn't disappoint.

The final images baseball fans had of Yu Darvish in 2017 were not good ones. After giving up three runs, and recording only five outs, Darvish made his 3-2 delivery to Houston Astros’ outfielder, George Springer. Darvish was hoping to get out of a two-out jam. Rather, a fastball leaked back over the plate and Springer sent the ball deep into the Los Angeles night sky.

The exasperation on the face of Darvish at that moment embodied the home crowd’s realization that the World Series had just ended. As Springer rounded the bases, Dodgers’ Manager, Dave Roberts slowly walked out to remove Darvish, ending the talented right-hander’s season. Springer’s home run ended a disastrous World Series for Darvish, which featured an ugly stat line of; 2 GS, 3.1 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 2 HR, 21.60 ERA.

Likely not what the Dodgers had in mind when they traded a package of prospects to secure Darvish’s services in the summer of 2017.

After a long off-season, Darvish got his first chance to wipe the slate clean Tuesday against his former Dodgers’ teammates, sporting his new Cubs threads. Early indications were similar to Darvish’s 2017 season, a little up and a little down. His performance can be best described as erratic.

The debut started with a four-pitch walk to Cub-killer, Chris Taylor, as well as a pair of wild pitches. A bit of an inauspicious start. However, Darvish did not rob fans of his illustration of pure dominance at times. He served up a first inning lead to the Dodgers, but he ended up striking out the side to escape the jam. Darvish was not blowing away non-roster invites either, the punch-outs came at the expense of Corey Seager, Matt Kemp, and Yasiel Puig.

In the bottom the inning, the Cubs spotted Darvish back his first inning run, plus five additional runs to take a 6-1 lead. Let’s hope this trend translates to the regular season. Darvish followed up with a shutdown second inning, going 1-2-3. His final debut line was, 2 IP, 0 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.

All things considered, this is a good start as a Cub for Darvish. The wildness is simply part of his repertoire. So to is the 95 mile-per-hour fastball which he also featured Tuesday afternoon. Today’s start is just a taste of the electricity that Darvish will provide every five days this summer.

While Darvish looked strong in his debut, fans need to take any Spring performances with a grain of salt. As Cubs GM, Jed Hoyer eluded to a couple weeks ago on 670 The Score’s Spiegel & Parkins Show, Spring Training has a way of being deceptive. “We do not make good decisions down here as an industry, as a team,” Hoyer said. “The ball flies. Pitchers have a hard time keeping the ball in the ballpark. Every hitter looks amazing”.

Darvish’s good start is certainly a welcomed sight, but overly optimistic takes based on today should be tempered.
For now, Darvish is penciled in as the Cubs number three starter, behind Lester and Hendricks. Barring injury, nothing that takes place in Arizona over the next few weeks is going to change that. The only concern fans should have for Darvish is that he avoid injury. Any opinions on Darvish’s six-year, $126 million deal should wait until his regular-season debut in Miami at month’s end.

Until then, life is good as a Cubs fan. The rotation has three to four viable Cy Young Award candidates in the starting rotation. This could quite possibly the best Cubs rotation during the illustrious Epstein-Era. Appreciate it while it’s here Cubs fans. Do not forget that a few short years ago a 96-loss Cubs team trotted out Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Carlos Villanueva, and Chris Rusin across 91 starts.

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