Yu Darvish Hit Hard In Home Debut With Cubs

Darvish moved to 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA after a 4-0 loss to the Braves.

Chris Emma
April 13, 2018 - 7:24 pm
Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish

Jim Young/USA TODAY Sports


By Chris Emma--

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- The delivery of right-hander Yu Darvish, the Cubs' big-money signing this past offseason, comes with a slight hitch toward the plate. It's familiar to all those who have watched him and no surprise to the batter waiting for the pitch.

But Friday, in Darvish's home debut as a Cubs pitcher, he went into a wind toward Braves star Freddie Freeman with a pronounced pause and was assessed a balk by home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman in the fifth inning of a scoreless game. It confused Darvish, left manager Joe Maddon curious and even had Freeman agreeing it wasn't a balk.

From there, Darvish's day turned into a struggle. He threw a wild pitch, then allowed a single, double and finally a three-run home run for Preston Tucker, and the Cubs would fall 4-0 to the Braves at Wrigley Field.

"I got thrown off guard and went downhill," Darvish said through a translator, calling the balk ruling frustrating.

Darvish took the mound to yells of "Yuuuuuuuuu" from Cubs fans and walked off with a few boos. Signed to a six-year, $126-million deal this offseason, Darvish is a man from whom great performance is expected.

He can look to Cubs ace Jon Lester -- the only pitcher in franchise history given more money -- on how to handle the microscope of living up to the big deal. Through three starts, Darvish is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA and rough outings two out of three times. Lester, too, struggled in his first starts in a Cubs uniform back in 2015.

Maddon saw Darvish work through early command issues and settle into a zone, utilizing his fastball, cutter and slider and mixing in the changeup. He was sure that Darvish was going at least six innings. The ability to differentiate movement with velocity is what has made Darvish one of baseball's better pitchers since his arrival from Japan in 2012. 

The Cubs believed they added yet another ace-type pitcher to their rotation in Darvish. They were confident that he projects better than 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, whom they let walk in free agency to the Phillies.

Friday didn't display what the Cubs could have, with Darvish getting hit hard by the upstart Braves. Six of the nine hits off Darvish were tagged at more than 94 miles per hour of exit velocity -- including the three hits that followed the balk. He went just 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, all earned, while walking four and striking out four.

Hopes are high for what Darvish can bring for the Cubs. They envision strong stuff in October and a key contributor to World Series teams. 

On Friday, the Cubs got a glimpse of Darvish's potential in Chicago before both his composure and the game were lost.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.