Cubs News

Trevor Bauer beats out Yu Darvish for 2020 NL Cy Young Award

4 years agoTony Andracki

Coming off a huge second half of the 2019 season, Yu Darvish had high expectations for himself in 2020.

It’s safe to say he met – if not exceeded – those expectations and the Cubs could not have hoped for more out of their veteran right-hander.

Darvish posted a sparkling 2.01 ERA and 0.96 WHIP while striking out 93 batters in 76 innings. He allowed just 5 homers and walked only 14 batters across his 12 starts.

As a result, Darvish was named as a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award. He finished second to Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer, who led the NL with a 1.73 ERA. The Mets’ Jacob deGrom finished third.

It was the second time in Darvish’s career that he finished second in Cy Young voting (also 2013 with the Rangers).

Darvish led the NL in WAR (FanGraphs) with a 3.0 mark, just shy of Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (3.2) for the MLB lead. deGrom was the next closest in the NL at 2.6 WAR.

“I can’t say enough about Yu,” David Ross said after Darvish’s playoff start last month. “What a phenomenal year. He put us in a position to be in the postseason. Him and Kyle [Hendricks] just had phenomenal years.

“It was fun to be his manager and watch him pitch every fifth day. He was a true professional. Very proud of the year he had.”

Only two qualified pitchers gave up homers at a lower rate than Darvish (0.59 HR/9) in 2020 – Dallas Keuchel (0.28) and Zack Wheeler (0.38).

Diving even deeper with sabermetric value – Darvish had the highest Win Probability Added (2.30) of any NL pitcher this season. Essentially, that means Darvish got more outs in big spots for his team than any other pitcher in the league. The next closest pitcher was his teammate – Hendricks (2.00 WPA) – while Bauer was 3rd (1.53) and deGrom was 8th (0.98).

Wins and losses aren’t everything for pitchers, but it was notable that Darvish led the NL in wins (8) after notching just 7 wins in his first two seasons with the Cubs.

It became “Win Day” every time he took the ball for the Cubs in the shortened season – which provided a mental boost on top of Darvish’s stellar on-field performance.

“He [was] a true ace this year,” Theo Epstein said at the end of the regular season. “He was such an important part of this club – both in terms of just the performance and leading the league in WAR among pitchers – what that’s meant to us on the field. And the shutdown innings that he’s given us, the opportunity to win and the wins that he’s generated for us. On the field, he’s been huge.

“And then psychologically, too, it became ‘Win Day’ when he was pitching. As you’re navigating through a really difficult season and trying to figure out how you’re going to have enough pitching and where your wins are going to come from, having him so dominant and so reliable became an important part of this team’s psyche, as well.

“What a credit to him and a lot of people who he relies on, too, to pull off this turnaround from where he was a couple years ago.”

Darvish turned 34 in August, but said throughout 2020 that he feels as good as he ever has throughout his career. He also continued to refine his extensive repertoire, adding another pitch to the mix during 2020. That gives him 11 (or is it 12? 13?) different options to throw at opposing hitters.

He is signed through 2023 and will be an option to start Opening Day for the Cubs next spring.

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