Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish is attempting to work himself back from the disabled list, but today he was at Dodger Stadium in the Los Angeles for the first time since leaving the Dodgers for the Cubs in the off-season, and had a lot to say.
Darvish, who inked a six-year, $126 million contract with the Cubs this off-season, revealed to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that last season, he contemplated retiring at the end of it. Thoughts of retiring started to creep in during his time with the Texas Rangers, but started to go away after Darvish was traded to the Dodgers over the summer. Darvish said it had nothing to do with the Rangers themselves:
“I had told my wife that I was thinking of retiring at the end of the year,” Darvish said. “I was thinking I didn’t want to do it anymore, but then I was traded to the Dodgers.”
“It was my problem,” he said. “But my environment changed drastically and playing in that new environment changed something in my soul.”
For Darvish, 2017 was his first full season coming back from Tommy John surgery that caused him to miss all of the 2015 season. The mental grind it takes to get back from a major surgery like that often overshadows the physical aspect, even though Darvish ended up pitching well in 2017, and was effective for the Dodgers until the World Series.
In two starts against the Houston Astros on the biggest stage in baseball, Darvish posted a 21.60 earned run average in two starts. In those two starts combined, Darvish lasted just 3.1 total innings, and yielded eight earned runs and two home runs.
While it would certainly be foolish to criticize Darvish for contemplating retirement, you have to at least hope the Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the rest of the Cubs front office had knowledge of Darvish’s mindset during contract negotiations, because they did not make a minimal commitment by any means.
Chicago’s commitment hasn’t paid off yet, as Darvish has already been on the disabled list twice and has struggled majorly, although there have been signs that could lead you to be optimistic. Darvish allowed only two hits and one earned run in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds on May 20 which brought his earned run average out of the plus-5.00 range.
The Cubs let Jake Arrieta leave in free agency for the Philadelphia Phillies, and while that aspect also hasn’t worked out so far, when Darvish has been healthy, he’s been a better strikeout pitcher than Arrieta, as Arrieta has struggled to strike opposing hitters out this year. Arrieta is on-pace to strikeout just 124 batters this season, which would be the lowest market for Arrieta in a full season,
For his career, Darvish has a 3.49 earned run average and 1,070 strikeouts in 872.1 innings of work.