Baseball is back, right? We wait for months, desperately wanting meaningful baseball … and then, boom, you get a game like last night’s, perfectly designed to punch you right in the dingus and remind you that it ain’t all grand. I gotta remember how to shake it off, and I’ll probably start by re-reading what I wrote a few days ago before the start of the season.
It was as true after the Game One win as the Game Two loss. https://t.co/qgLiFZhVpg
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) March 31, 2019
OK. Let’s chat …
- I’m not sure we could have nightmare’d up a worse debut for Yu Darvish that didn’t involve an injury. Over 2.2 painful innings, Darvish ground through 75 pitches and 7 walks. His velocity was down a bit from the get-go (about 93 mph), and steadily declined from there. As the velo went, so did the command. At first he wasn’t missing by much, but soon, it just had that look of a guy who could not get the ball anywhere close to where he wanted.
- It was really disappointing, and it’s impossible for any fan not to have flashbacks to how we felt after almost all of his early starts last year (and they weren’t even THIS bad). The good news is that I’m not detecting any sense from anywhere that there is a concern about a physical problem with Darvish, who said everything was fine with his arm, the ball, the mound, etc. last night, and he’s just going to have to look at the video to get a sense of what went wrong (Cubs.com).
- That does make it slightly easier to chalk at least some of this up to the myriad other possible explanations:
- First big league start in almost a year
- First start of the season
- Return to Texas for the the first time
- Mechanics off slightly post-blister
- Cold temperatures
- Some missed strike calls
- Arm wearing down more quickly than usual because of crazy long first inning
- You just have to hope at this point that it was a combination of all that stuff, and everything is “fine” in the physical sense. If that’s true, then Darvish can simply trash this one, study the video to correct any small issues, and move on. Again, that’s the hope. But I understand that folks won’t be as aggressive with the hope this year.
- I still can’t get over the fact that it took 58 PITCHES for the Rangers to put a ball in play.
- Don’t call him Yu Chatwood:
Yu Darvish has walked 3 in each of the first 2 innings of this start. That's something that Tyler Chatwood did NOT do last season.
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
- One more on just how bizarre Darvish’s start was:
Yu Darvish is the first pitcher since Pat Malone to allow 7+ BB and record 4+ K in fewer than 3 IP.
Pat Malone did it on August 2, 1930.
— justin (@jayhaykid) March 31, 2019
- Sahadev Sharma’s take here:
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCHI) March 31, 2019
- If you want to take away a positive from the pitching last night, it’s the Jose Quintana – remember how he’s an important starter, too? – looked really good, despite being slid into a relief appearance. And check out this metric:
Yesterday's – 3/30 – CSW rate leaders (called strikes + whiffs / total pitches):
1 McHugh- 35.8%
2 Quintana- 34.6%
3 Strasburg- 34.4%
4 Pablo Lopez- 34.1%
5 Maeda- 34%
6 Odorizzi- 33.7%
7 Bauer- 33.3%
8 Syndergaard- 33%
9 Hudson- 31.8%
10 Paxton- 31.7%
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) March 31, 2019
- Quintana’s 12.4% swinging strike rate was 50% higher than his career average, so that’s pretty awesome. Some of that is a Rangers lineup loaded with free-swinging lefties, but still. It was as encouraging a performance as Darvish’s was discouraging. Even the two “earned” runs Quintana gave up came after a dribbler to David Bote that he threw away (and should have had).
- Thoughts on the bullpen and Carl Edwards Jr. earlier here.
- On the positive side of the ledger, the offense looked great again last night in all the right ways – working counts, hard contact in the air to all sides of the field, scoring runners from third with fewer than two outs, etc., etc. That was some terrible Rangers pitching, to be sure, so we can’t make any proclamations. But it was nice to see. Maybe especially this guy:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 31, 2019