Yu Darvish’s game yesterday against the Brewers was not only impressive on its face, it was extremely re-assuring. He commanded his pitches well (especially his cutter, which to my eye was exceptional yesterday), he had lots of bite on his slider again, and he got plenty of whiffs. It’s what you want to see in a Yu Darvish start, regardless of the results.
But those results were good! Darvish allowed no earned runs over his six innings of work, allowed just three hits, two walks (one of which was thanks to an abysmal strike zone), and struck out eight. It was just a touch better by game score than his outing in Milwaukee against these same Brewers (68 to 69).
Moreover, something that made me really happy: Darvish’s signature slider appeared to have MUCH more vertical movement than in previous outings (which was a concern coming into this start), and the data indicates, yes, it was by far the most drop in his slider that he’s had all year.
Moreover-moreover, something that made really happy: Darvish twice dealt with odd/challenging situations, and didn’t melt down. In the first inning, a rare Jason Heyward error gave the Brewers a runner right off the bat, and although that runner scored, it was otherwise a very normal inning. In the fifth inning – THE FIFTH INNING OF DOOM!!! – Darvish allowed a hit to the opposing pitcher with two outs, and then got ridiculously squeezed for a walk. It was hauntingly familiar. But then he got Christian Yelich to harmlessly tap out and finish the inning.
On that moment, here’s what he told Cubs.com: “[Joe Maddon] really takes care of me. He thinks a lot about me. In today’s outing, there was a similar situation as in the previous game. Because I spoke with Joe, I was able to overcome it and kept going. He talked [in Cleveland] about not worrying about the previous pitch or what happened in the past, and concentrate on the pitch I was going to throw. Basically, it was, ‘Don’t worry about what happened in the past.'”
Overall, dude really had it working yesterday, with plenty of nastiness (@Cubs):
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 27, 2018
I don’t even care: I’m calling the slow curve in there an eephus. Darvish got a K on an eephus yesterday. Bam.
A closer look at some of what Darvish does with the ball:
Yu Darvish, 3 Different Shapes of Breaking Balls (86 mph Slider, 73 mph Curve, 88 mph Cutter). pic.twitter.com/Qerbd2PcSa
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 27, 2018
And, yes, he slipped at second base on his double, but at least it provided the opportunity to make this:
— Randall J. Sanders (@RandallJSanders) April 27, 2018