Yu Darvish looked very good for four innings against the Braves in his return from the disabled list, but cramping prevented him from going any further, and providing us nearly as much good vibing as we would have liked after a challenging start to his Cubs tenure.
He’ll start again for the Cubs on Sunday, hopefully getting through a (dreaded) fifth inning, and giving the appearance, at least, of turning the oft-mentioned corner.
To that end, Sahadev Sharma has something you’re really going to want to read if you are – like we are – trying to figure out what’s up with Darvish, why it’s happening, and what could be coming next:
Some rain delay reading: Yu Darvish seemed to lean on just two pitches on Tuesday. Was that the plan? Was that even really the case? Some interesting thoughts on his slider(s) and the rest of his arsenal from run prevention coordinator Tommy Hottovy. https://t.co/ptO4bkScgn
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) May 18, 2018
The reality is, as much as your pitching infrastructure might want a new pitcher to do X, Y, and Z to maximize his performance, the pitcher is still a human being. And even if Pitch Z is what would be best to bump a little bit, it’s not actually going to be effective if the pitcher doesn’t have full confidence in unleashing it at that time. So, then, in-game adjustments are made, a guy sticks with where his comfort zone is, and, as we’ve seen, a pitcher like Darvish has delivered a surprisingly limited repertoire so far.
In addition to that particular adjustment process (for both sides), there is also apparently an adjustment going on with his slider (recall, we noted some particular problems with the velocity and movement on his previously most nasty pitch), whereby he’s really trying to differentiate two different kinds of sliders – one with more depth, and one with more sweep. It’s worth reading Sharma’s piece for that section, alone.
There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with a talented, complex pitcher joining a new team with a talented, complex pitching infrastructure in place. None of this means for sure that Darvish is about to break out, but it does provide some confidence that things may not be proceeding in a completely unexpected way. Give it a read.