Later tonight, the Baseball Writers Association of America will reveal their pick for the 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner. And they’ll either get it right (Yu Darvish) … or they’ll make the biggest mistake since “Hall of Famer baseball person” Tony La Russa deleted Uber from his iPhone (Trevor Bauer, Jacob deGrom).
We’ve already made the case for Darvish’s candidacy, so I won’t re-hash the specifics, but I do want to remind you that our guy struck out 93 batters in 76.0 innings this season, which, when combined with just 14 walks over 12 starts, puts his 6.64 K/BB ratio behind only Kyle Hendricks in the National League (who was, himself, at an obscene 8.00):
93 strikeouts in 76.0 innings!
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) November 11, 2020
Darvish is now the fourth Cy Young finalist for the Cubs since 2015 (Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Darvish) and could soon become the second winner during that stretch. Jinx. Double-jinx. ABC-Blackout.
But I promised to set that part aside, so I will. Instead, let’s take a look at The Athletic, where Sahadev Sharma pulled some absolutely epic quotes from Cubs Pitching Coach Tommy Hottovy, who explains just how unique and absurd Darvish is as a pitcher (emphasis mine):
“There are days where he’s going to come in and he’s gonna be like, ‘I talked to (Kenta) Maeda, I’m going to use his changeup grip today.’ Or ‘I was watching (Jacob) deGrom, I want to try his slider grip,'” Hottovy said. “He’s that kind of guy. That’s how his mind works and that’s who he wants to be. We’re never going to hinder that enthusiasm and that willingness to be creative. That’s what makes him so unique.”
“He’s warming up at the White Sox and his hard cutter is doing stuff it’s never done,” Hottovy said. “Victor kept looking up and said, ‘Papi, what’re you throwin’?’ and Darvish said, ‘Oh, I just wanted to go back to my 2017 cutter because I felt like it was going to play better against this team.’ In that moment, it’s easy to panic and say, ‘You’re going to throw a pitch you haven’t thrown in three years?’ But there’s a process, there’s a method to what he’s trying to do.”
So just to be clear, Darvish doesn’t just have 10-12 pitches he can break out at any one moment, he has variations of his own pitches from different eras of his career, as well as the ability to try other pitchers’ variations of the same pitch. I mean … that’s not normal. You should really go read Sharma’s post at The Athletic to learn more, before Darvish (hopefully) takes home his first major piece of hardware:
Whether it's deciding he's going to try another pitcher's pitch, messing with a pitch he hasn't ussd in years in pregame or changing a grip mid-inning, Yu Darvish loves to experiment. That the Cubs give him the freedom to do so is one reason he's thriving https://t.co/xAnV3YhK1F
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) November 11, 2020