It’s up to Yu: Cubs turn to Darvish to extend season
If David Ross had a Cy Young vote in 2020, he has no question he’d choose Yu Darvish.
After losing Wednesday, the Cubs will be leaning on their Cy Young candidate to shut down the Marlins and extend the Wild-Card Series in Friday afternoon’s pivotal Game 2.
Darvish went 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in the regular season, making 12 starts and giving his team so much confidence that they began calling his starts “win day.”
The Cubs hope that moniker sticks for at least one more outing here in 2020.
With David Ross opting to give Kyle Hendricks the ball in Game 1, it also had the added benefit of giving Darvish an extra day of rest after his start last Friday.
Darvish made 4 starts on 5 days of rest this year and was masterful, going 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 26 innings.
“I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be better physically than 4 days rest,” he said.
Even during the 3 starts Darvish lost this season, he still kept his team in the game. He allowed more than 3 runs only once this season, turning in quality starts 10 times in 12 outings.
Darvish also finished the season with the best WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in the National League and his 3.0 mark was second only to Cleveland’s Shane Bieber (3.2 WAR) in all of baseball.
“He’s been a true ace this year,” Theo Epstein said. “[He’s been] 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 has been one of the best pitchers in the game since the All-Star Break last season.
In 25 starts dating back to last July, he has a 2.40 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 211 strikeouts against only 21 walks in 157.2 innings.
Now he’ll carry that confidence into the most important game he’s ever pitched in a Cubs uniform Thursday at Wrigley Field.
“I think he got sick and tired of not being at his best and letting people down and took it upon himself to make a lot of dramatic improvements physically, mentally and fundamentally to put himself in a position to be arguably the very best pitcher in the league this year,” Epstein said.
“Hats off to him — we’re really proud of everything that he’s accomplished. We wish for him in the future a Cy Young and many great October starts.”