Darvish Fades Again, Contreras Offers Surprising Explanation, Farrell's Inning, and Other Bullets

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Darvish Fades Again, Contreras Offers Surprising Explanation, Farrell’s Inning, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Any day the Cubs have a chance to win a series is a good day. To do it in Colorado against a good Rockies team? That’d be just great. Especially with the scheduled off-day tomorrow. It’d be yet another looooong wait for baseball if the Cubs drop today’s game.

  • As for the game the Cubs lost last night, Yu Darvish’s meltdown in the 5th inning (the third time it’s happened already this season) will get a disproportionate volume of attention, and understandably so. After getting to two outs, and having already walked the number 7 hitter, Darvish walked the pitcher. Then it was hard hit, hard hit, walk, hard hit, hard hit, and Darvish’s day was done. It was striking after four great innings to start his night, albeit with a limited repertoire (he was once again EXTREMELY heavy on four-seamers and cutters) and limited movement (c’est la vie in Coors). You blinked, and it went from a great outing to a disaster.
  • This has been a narrative that has followed Darvish a bit in his career – that he cannot right the ship when things go a little wrong – and these three starts certainly won’t help to quell it. And neither will some surprising quotes after the game from Darvish and his young catcher, Willson Contreras:

  • Darvish ultimately disagreed with Contreras on that particular front, saying that he attacks every hitter the same way, but that’s somewhat beside the point, given that Darvish himself acknowledged that things went sideways on him in the 5th yet again when he faced adversity, and his catcher felt comfortable enough to say these things out loud. It’s important, before getting too deep in the weeds on quotes like these – and others that you can read here, here, and here – that we’re talking about two men for whom English is not their first language, recounting conversations they had with each other in the middle of a game, several hours later to English-speaking reporters asking questions (and, you can throw in an interpreter, too). So I don’t think this is a “holy crap, can you believe Contreras said that?” situation, and hopefully it’s not viewed that way by Darvish or anyone else.
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
  • As for what happened, well, you still have to keep the perspective of how few starts this is, and how few pitches it takes for things to blow up (at Coors Field, no less). I’m not sure what the game plan was, or why exactly Darvish completely cut out the hesitation in his delivery last night, but it’s not like it’s impossible that it was just a bad inning that got him at Coors, and there’s no grand narrative thread to weave through this and two other bad starts that each simply could have also been a thing (the conditions against the Braves were crappy, and he had a cramp in his hand against the Marlins). Let me be really clear: I’m not offering those things as excuses for the performance (because the performance has been *bad*). Instead, I’m simply saying it’s plausible that, after a long stretch of good starts later this year, we’ll look back and think, “Oh yeah, that’s what that was. Baseball’s weird in small samples, eh?”
  • Will that actually happen? Well, the long track record of success says it’s more likely than not. It’s not hard to draw the parallels to Jon Lester’s first four starts with the Cubs, which also had some flukiness, and preceded a nice long stretch of Lester pitching like the guy he’s always been. If I had to bet, that’s what Darvish will do, too.
  • But still, I’d like to see that repertoire opened up a bit – does he not have a feel for his changeup and curveball? or has that been a weather/Coors Field thing? – and see him missing more bats. Darvish isn’t really a contact manager type, so if he’s going to be at his best, he needs to get swings and misses. Last night, even as he was succeeding in the early innings, he was not getting many whiffs – he had just six in the game. So many foul balls early on.
  • I love reading about David Bote’s call-up, and how much it means to him and his family (Cubs.com). Remember, this is a guy who’d slid into that “organizational filler” type role, bouncing up and down the system as needs arose, and languishing at A-ball for years. He got a real shot to move up in 2016-17, and he broke out with the bat, in part, by consistently hitting the ball in the air, and wound up making his way to the big leagues.
  • Hey, did you watch Luke Farrell at the end of last night’s game? Sure, the leverage was low, and he was just trying to throw a clean inning, but the breaking pitches – changeup/slider – at the bottom of the zone looked quite legit. He got FIVE(!) whiffs out of 11 pitches in a perfect 8th. He didn’t have much in the way of velocity on his fastball, but he’s also never really been a reliever. Maybe he could crank it up a bit. Or maybe the offspeed stuff is sufficiently good that he doesn’t need to. It was just one outing, so reserve almost all judgment, but, yeah, if you were watching, you were impressed.
  • Today could be a special one for Jose Quintana:

  • Former Cubs prospect Gleyber Torres arrives today for the Yankees … good luck to him:

  • A reminder that anything can happen in a given day, even to a very good offense? The Red Sox were no-hit last night by Sean Manaea. Good for him. And I don’t think anyone is going to suddenly think the Boston offense isn’t awesome.
  • A scary situation that requires your prayers and/or good thoughts:

  • It officially happened, as Matt Harvey is moving to the Mets’ bullpen. Maybe it’ll be fine and he’ll rediscover himself as a reliever. If not, it’ll be the latest reminder that careers can be cut short so quickly, even for guys who look like they’re going to be among the league’s best for years to come.
  • Sale at Fanatics today, my friends – 25% off orders through tonight:


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.