Yu Darvish began his second rehab assignment on Sunday with the Class-A South Bend Cubs, and only lasted one full inning before being pulled from the game. From this article regarding Darvish’s short-lived outing by Matthew Martell on MLB.com:
“Initially expected to throw three innings, Darvish took the mound before the second, but he was removed after six warmup pitches. After the last one — a curveball — Darvish signaled toward the dugout that he needed to come out.”
Martell goes on to explain that the discomfort Darvish felt was comparable to what he felt in his last rehab start almost two months ago. Knowing how long it has taken him to even get to this point in his rehabilitation and that the window on the 2018 season is starting to close, it is very difficult to envision a scenario where he toes the rubber for the Chicago Cubs again this year. If that is the case, then this season will go down as a complete disaster for the team’s prized free agent signing of the offseason.
Darvish has only made eight starts this year, and put up some uninspiring numbers including career worsts with his 4.95 ERA (backed up by a 4.86 FIP), 1.43 WHIP, and a 4.7 BB/9. He was still able to post a standard 11.0 K/9 rate, but that’s about the only good peripheral number that he has this year. He was also unable to pitch deep into games on a regular basis. Every time he completed six innings (which happened three times) it was good for a quality start, but in his other five starts he failed to get through the fifth frame. That kind of inconsistency is not what the Cubs are paying him $126 million (plus incentives) for, and it will take a lot of work over the remainder of his contract to provide positive value out of it.
For now, the Cubs still have a solid rotation of Jon Lester, new-found ace Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana, and while Mike Montgomery is on the 10-day DL his spot will be filled by Tyler Chatwood. If Darvish does still make a return, then manager Joe Maddon would likely go with a six-man rotation in an effort to keep those arms a little more fresh for the postseason push. But as it stands it’s looking like it will be a five-man crew for now, even if Drew Smyly manages to make a comeback this season.
UPDATE 8/21: Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat reported that Darvish will sit out the remainder of the 2018 season with a stress reaction on his throwing elbow. This year will now officially go down as a lost one for Darvish, and as I stated above it will take a lot of work and positive production from him over the rest of his contract to cancel out how poorly the first year went.
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