Bernstein: Cubs' Big Investments Looking Better

Yu Darvish and Jason Heyward are sharing concurrent resurgence.

Dan Bernstein
July 19, 2019 - 3:43 pm

(670 The Score) You can forgive Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein for enjoying the recent successes of both right-hander Yu Darvish and outfielder Jason Heyward more than most, particularly after he committed a combined $310 million to them and then has had to wait for it to look like it was any kind of good idea.

The big-ticket twosome is also sharing concurrent resurgence, with the former having strung together a pair of his best starts as a Cub and the latter sustaining at near a career-high level of offensive performance, with a slash line of .275/.357/.470 and 15 home runs while posting a stellar UZR/150 of 10.3 in right field that's third-best in the National League.​  

It's not anything close to a victory lap or an I-told-you-so, but Epstein sounded like he was breathing a little easier when he joined the Bernstein and McKnight Show on 670 the Score on Friday to discuss both players' contribution to his first-place team.

"I really like to see hard work rewarded," he said. "I like to see narratives change."

And they have. For Darvish, it will take more of what his July has been to declare him fully back to form. For the month, he has posted a 1.93 ERA and a 3.00 FIP, with 10.13 strikeouts per nine innings and just 0.48 walks.

"He's just come a long way," Epstein said. "He put in a lot of work to gain confidence, put in a lot of work in the weight room to get strong and explosive, put in a lot of work on his own and with our pitching infrastructure to get his mechanics locked down, and he put in a lot of work on the mental side of the game, to be his best, most aggressive, most assertive self."

And Epstien is optimistic that it's going to continue. 

"It's just really nice to see him gaining confidence and being really assertive and allowing his really dynamic ability to come out," Epstein said. "Now it's a matter of maintaining it and finding some consistence at that level."

For his part, Heyward appears to already be doing just that. Though one could argue that his now-legendary rain delay speech credited for refocusing the Cubs in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series had already made him worth his contract, he's really living up to it now. Epstein had long believed Heyward was close to putting it back together like this.

"He's always been just a small, quick adjustment with feel or swing path away from being a really productive player again," Epstein said. "Now that he has better feel with the barrel and his swing path is where it needs to be, you see more than gradual gains. You see exponential gains because he's someone who is still recognizing so well. You have a confident hitter going up there with a swing he's comfortable with, and he knows he can recognize spin and get the barrel there. You see a hitter who's in control of the at-bat and doing a lot of good things."

And you hear a president of baseball operations who probably feels considerably better about how he's decided to spend an owner's money, a narrative change in its own right.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in midday. You can follow him on Twitter @Dan_Bernstein.