by Alex Poletti
In his return from the disabled list, Yu Darvish treated the baseball world to a vintage performance. The Japanese hurler looked like his old self, and proved it by injuring his throwing arm once again.
“This is the Yu Darvish we knew was there all along,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon says of the former All-Star, who has an ERA over 4.00 in two injury-shortened seasons with Chicago. “Everyone knows what this guy is capable. Whether it be forearm, elbow or tricep, no one can hurt his arm like Yu.”
Yu Darvish was the biggest international signing of the winter of 2011, making his debut with the Rangers the following spring. After two stellar season with Texas, including a 2013 in which he finished second in Cy Young voting, his career was derailed by injuries. He missed all of the 2015 season, and has pitched over 30 games only once since then. Still, the promise of Darvish’s strikeout prowess looms large.
Despite injury concerns, the Cubs were drawn to the Osaka native due to his upside and incredible pitch repertoire.
“Darvish has thrown ten different pitches this year,” teammate Kyle Hendricks remarks. “It’s truly astonishing. He can come at you with ten different pitches, each with different velocity, different movement, and a different way it can completely decimate his throwing arm.”
The Cubs were proven right this week in Darvish’s first start off the disabled list. He twirled a gem against the Padres, completing eight innings and striking out 14.
“It was nice to have a performance like that again,” Darvish says through an interpreter. “It felt good to help my team in the middle of a playoff race. I think I’m going to stay pretty healthy as well; I think I’ll only miss two months after this start.”
Darvish could be the secret to the Cubs success heading into late September. The South Siders are very much in the thick of the wild card race, and remain less than five games out of the NL Central. If all goes according to plan with the offense, and Darvish does his part, the Cubbies could fly the W in October once again.
“I think a lot of things need to go right in order for us to get back to the promised land,” President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein says. “Of course, Rizzo and Bryant need to do their share, but Yu plays an important role as well. If he continues to get injured and stays out of our pitching staff, then we have one less pitcher who’ll choke against the Astros in the World Series.”