Sunday, February 11, 2018


Finally.  The unrelentingly slow MLB winter may finally be thawing just a bit as the top pitcher on the market finally signed on the dotted line.  Of course, we are talking about how the Chicago Cubs hauled in free agent ace starter Yu Darvish to a six-year deal worth $126 million.  The deal does have an opt out after Year 2 which could benefit both sides depending on the direction this goes.  While you may think Darvish is set to be an ace for years and is money well spent, there is some legitimate cause for concern here in terms of health and what was a somewhat ugly 2017 campaign.  Before we delve in even further, here were the numbers accrued by Darvish last season in a year split between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers:

3.86 ERA
1.16 WHIP
209 K

Looking at the numbers, the WHIP was very good for Darvish who used to struggle at least a bit in that category when he first came to the States and 200-plus strikeouts was par for the course here for a guy who annually is one of the most potent swing-and-miss hurlers in the game.  Be that as it may, Darvish's 3.86 ERA was ugly considering his overpowering stuff and things ended horribly when he was shelled in pathetic fashion in the World Series with the Dodgers.  Already with a Tommy John surgery under his belt, Darvish's violent delivery is a constant concern and at the age of 31 (turning 32 in August), he is no spring chicken.  The injury risk does remain very high here and a 1.30 HR/9 last season was very ugly for Darvish.  Giving up home runs at such a high rate as Darvish has done throughout his major league career makes any one start dicey and when combined with the injury risk, this is no given in terms of 2018 success.

On the positive side, Darvish's fastball has not lost any sizzle and his average heater velocity of 94.7 a year ago was the second-best rate of his career.  Thus, if Darvish can just knock off a few homers from his ledger, the ERA should fall back down toward the 3.00 area code.  Also, a full season in the NL could mean a massive amount of strikeouts from Darvish and 250 is not entirely out of the question.  While you may feel a bit nervous drafting Darvish as an ace, he does make the grade there as a low-end one this season.  The risk is high but so is the potential profit.

2018 PROJECTION:  15-8 3.27 ERA 1.15 WHIP 244 K  

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