Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish is staying put. Darvish will not opt out of his deal with the Cubs, according to Jon Heyman.
The 33-year-old Darvish overcame a miserable first half to reclaim his spot as one of the game’s elite pitchers in the second half. Over his first 18 starts in 2019, Darvish posted a 5.01 ERA. He rebounded with a 2.76 ERA in his final 13 starts.
Darvish, who signed a six-year, $126 million deal with the Cubs in 2018, could have used that second-half performance to seek out a more lucrative deal this winter. By sticking with the Cubs, Darvish will make $88 million over the next four seasons. Given his age, Darvish may have had a tough time topping that deal on the open market.
Prior to his excellent second half, Darvish had been on shaky ground with Cubs fans. Last season, Darvish was limited to just eight starts due to an elbow injury. He wasn’t particularly impressive in those starts, posting a 4.95 ERA.
After Darvish struggled to open 2019, the word “bust” started being thrown around. Just when it looked like the city would turn on him, Darvish quietly became the Cubs’ most dependable pitcher as the team fought for a playoff spot down the stretch.
His turnaround wasn’t smoke and mirrors. Darvish’s strikeout rate shot up more than 10 percent in the second half. His walk rate, which had long been an issue, plummeted to just 2.2 percent, the lowest among all starting pitchers in the second half. He relied more heavily on his splitter and a revamped curveball that he learned from closer Craig Kimbrel.
Darvish will enter next season as a major part of the Cubs’ quest to get back to the playoffs. If Darvish’s second half was a sign of things to come, the Cubs are already much closer to playing meaningful games in October in 2020.
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