MESA, Ariz — Of the many questions that remain for the 2019 Cubs the biggest continues to be the effectiveness of the biggest free agent signing of last off-season.
That’s natural considering that Yu Darvish lost nearly the entire season to an elbow injury in 2018. With the heavy financial investment by the club (six years, $126 million), his success could go a long way to helping the Cubs reach their lofty goals this season.
So for that desire, Sunday was a great day at Sloan Park.
In his second outing of the spring against the White Sox, Darvish shook off some wildness from his first outing against the Diamondbacks on February 26 (four walks in 1 1/3 innings) to strike out three batters in two scoreless innings and hit less innings, allowing just one walk. Certainly that was encouraging, but nothing to make any wide-ranging assumptions about future success.
Yet Darvish was more self-assured in his discussion with the media after, especially when asked how close he was to being at his best as a pitcher.
He didn’t mince words.
“You feel the best right now that you have in your career?” was an immediate follow-up to the pitcher from a reporter.
“Yes, I feel the best,” Darvish said.
It’s a bold statement for a pitcher in his second spring training game after missing most of last season with an elbow injury. As expected, another follow-up asked him why he feels that way.
“Yes, because I’m throwing 97 and (my) slider was very good. My split was good, too,” Darvish said. “So it’s the best stuff of my life.”
That’s good news for the Cubs, who got just eight starts out of Darvish in April and May before the elbow issues knocked him out for the season. Before that, the pitcher struggled with consistency, winning just one of his starts with three losses and a 4.95 ERA.
For the moment, it looks like Darvish is starting off well in his road back to being the pitcher the Cubs signed a year ago. Certainly the pitcher is confident that is the case.