Yu Darvish is showing exactly why his injury-prone past was a concern for many Cubs fans during free agency. Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ front office believed it was a risk worth taking when they signed him to a six-year $126 million contract last offseason.
Since then, he has played in only eight games for the Cubs and has not pitched since May 20.
Darvish started in a rehab assignment for the Class-A South Bend Cubs on August 19 but left the game after only one inning. Right triceps tendinitis has kept the Cubs’ pitcher from making an appearance for their major league club for most of the season, and obviously caused him discomfort Sunday. He threw 10 of 19 pitches for strikes in one inning and allowed no runs before being evaluated by the trainer and exiting the game against the Great Lake Loons.
The 6’5 right-hander will get another MRI soon and decisions will be made on how his rehabilitation should proceed from there.
Darvish previously threw 55 pitches in a simulated game on August 14 and was reported as feeling strong, causing many in the organization to feel optimistic about his return. The four-time All-Star also reportedly felt great in the first inning of his rehab start on Sunday, but felt discomfort while warming up for the second inning. He spoke with a trainer and came to the conclusion that Darvish should leave the game in order to reassess his rehab.
Darvish may still be able to make a return late in the regular season or the post season. However, with Sunday’s rehab start being cut short, it is highly unlikely the major leagues see the right-hander pitch again in 2018.
The Cubs’ latest $100 million plus signing is working hard to return to play as soon as possible, but with his contract still having five more full seasons on it, the Cubs’ organization certainly does not want to rush his return and increase the likelihood of reinjury.
While many Cubs fans are irate with the Darvish signing, after only eight games as a Cub it is still far too early to access the quality of singing the Japanese pitcher will be. Even with the long drawn out battle with injury, Darvish could still prove to be one of the best signing in Cubs history before his contract is up.
The new wave of winning-obsessed Cubs fans seem to have easily forgotten (or not been around for) the struggles of the 2014 season, as well as the previous 106 years of anguish. The 2014 Cubs went 73-89 and finished last in the NL Central. The lovable losers went from having a below .500 record to being World Series Champions in just two years, which is just one-third of Yu Darvish’s contract.
Go back six years, if someone had said in 2012 that the Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros would win back to back championships in just six years’ time, they would have been labeled a lunatic. That season the Cubs finished second-to-last in the NL Central with a 61-101 record. The only reason they did not finish last in the NL central is because the Houston Astros did with a 55-107 record. Baseball changes, and it changes quickly.
Yu Darvish is here, and he will be here for the foreseeable future, he could very well be a flop, while he also very well could return stronger than ever and give the Cubs years of quality work. Only time will tell and it is far too early to judge his time as a Chicago Cub fully.
There is still much hope and optimism to be had on the North Side, with 3.5 games up on the Brewers and sitting atop the NL Central with the best record in the entire National League, this team is still strong enough to make a serious run for their 2nd World Series Championship in 108 years.