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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: YU DARVISH SP CHICAGO CUBS

It looks like we can add Yu Darvish to the growing list of top-shelf Japanese pitching talent who flamed out under a hail of injuries after just a few seasons in the States.  Having quickly grabbed the mantle of fantasy baseball ace when he arrived with the Texas Rangers back in 2012 through a power pitching approach that included some of the best strikeout ability in the game, the cracks began to show in 2015 spring training when Darvish was forced to undergo Tommy John elbow surgery.  While he did make it back in the middle of 2016 with his fastball intact and the strikeouts continuing to pile up at a very high rate (which helped overcome a more pronounced home run tendency), Darvish's health continued to betray him from that point forward.  With the home runs doing more damage to Darvish's ERA compared to prior to the surgery (3.06 in 2014 right before the Tommy John; 3.41 in 2016 and 3.86 in 2017 afterwards), what we saw last season was nothing short of a complete adomination.  Fresh off signing as a free agent with the Chicago Cubs for a massive six-years and $126 million, Darvish first hit the DL in early May with the flu and then went back in the middle of the month due to right triceps tendinitis.  Since Darvish dealt with the same bout of right triceps tendinitis prior to his Tommy John in 2015, the Cubs moved very cautiously with their new investment from that point forward.  Despite the added care the team gave him, Darvish bottomed out in August when he exited a rehab start and soon was ruled out for the remainder of the season due both a stress reaction on the tip of his right elbow and right triceps strain.  So what did the Cubs receive for all that money bestowed to Darvish in Year 1 of his new deal?  Try 8 starts, a 4.95 ERA, and 1.43 WHIP which if you removed the name brand would be a haul that would relegate any pitcher who put up this slop to be left to rot on the waiver wire.  With all that said, Darvish should be 100 percent a go for 2019 spring training but it needs to be emphasized the guy appears to be a clear shell of his former ace self both in terms of statistics and obviously health.  Diving into the numbers a bit, Darvish still has his potent fastball as we noted earlier since he averaged a very impressive 94.8 mph on the pitch in 2018.  That velocity kept Darvish as a top K/9 guy (11.03) but everywhere else there was major trouble such as in control (4.73 BB/9) and again with the home runs (1.58 HR/9).  With Darvish only tossing 40 frames last season, we can toss the walk rate and somewhat the ERA into the mulligan bin.  The home runs are another story though as this has become a pronounced issue since the Tommy John surgery and calling Wrigley Field home will certainly not help on that front.  Then we have the utter hellacious health that alone makes Darvish completely unreliable even as a buy low SP 3.  Your best bet here is to simply avoid this annual ball of stress and look for some better stability somewhere else. 

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