If you’re reading this, you’ve seen panic. You’ve seen the overreactions, you’ve seen the condemnations. Yu Darvish’s first month in a Cub uniform was a bad one and I don’t expect us to stop hearing about it anytime soon.
The reaction to Darvish’s first six starts, four of which have been subpar, isn’t surprising given the 24-hour news cycle we live in. Especially when his most recent dud came on a day game that’s followed by a day off and then a night game. 50 hours without baseball=50 hours to overreact.
I will literally start a go fund me to get Yu Darvish out of Chicago.
— Colin Taylor (@Colin_Taylor22) May 2, 2018
Yu Darvish does in fact suck.
— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) May 2, 2018
— Chuck Freimund (@ChuckFreimund) May 2, 2018
It’s understandable that the Cubs’ shiny new free agent toy has been expected to perform up to his reputation right out of the gate. Fair or not, bigger salaries bring on bigger expectations.
There are reasons to be frustrated. He’s failed to pitch past the fifth inning four times already, which matches his career high for a season. He’s had multiple adverse moments early on, particularly in the fifth inning for whatever reason, that have knocked him off of his game.
Somehow, though, his poor 2017 world series performance has brainwashed folks, including many Chicago media members, into thinking his early season lapses amidst adversity is just Darvish living up to his reputation.
Apparently his career 19 WAR, 3.5 ERA and record-setting strikeout-rate over five seasons doesn’t hold as much weight as two poor world series starts against a championship lineup do. He’s obviously just too mentally weak to ever have success in October.
Oh wait, I forgot, he gave up just two earned runs while striking out 14 over 11 1/3 innings in his first two playoff starts of 2017.
That was before he got paid, though. Look at what’s happened to Jason Heyward after he signed the dotted line. When’s the last time the Cubs threw a truckload of cash at a pitcher, watched him suck for a month, only to see that pitcher immediately bounce back to being the player he had been prior to his payday?
Lester 1st month with Cubs: 0-2, 6.23 ERA, 1.57 WHIP
Darvish 1st month-plus with Cubs: 0-3, 6.00 ERA, 1.57 WHIP
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 3, 2018
What’s maybe the most frustrating component of the Darvish drama is the Jake Arrieta component. Arrieta recently shed light on his dialogue (or lack thereof) this past offseason with the Cubs.
“He called literally the night before Darvish signed and said, ‘Here’s the offer, take it or leave it. If you don’t want it, we’re going to try to sign Darvish as soon as possible.’ ”
Six years, $120 million. Take it or leave it.
The next day, the Cubs and Darvish closed on a six-year, $126 million contract.
So the Cubs valued Darvish a bit more than they valued Arrieta. Which was the correct evaluation considering Arrietta’s nearly 3mph velocity dip from 2015, declining strikeout rate and increasing walk rate. It’s funny, half the fanbase wanted Arrieta traded last season when he entered July with a 4.67 ERA, now those same fans want him under contract for another 5 years at $25M a pop.
Arrieta’s promising start in Philadelphia should bring Cubs fans nothing but happiness for the former world series stud. The animosity towards the front office for not bringing him back is misplaced.
Look, it makes sense. Darvish should be performing better, he’s too talented not to. The Cubs paid him a lot, the title window is now and he needs to perform up to his capabilities for the Cubs to be at their best.
All the Cubs are asking is for you to look at the track record. Trust the track record, and you’ll realize that we’ll all be singing a different tune about Yu in no time.