The ink isn’t even dry on the Yu Darvish-Chicago Cubs contract and Cubs fans around the world can be heard rejoicing. The signing of the 31-year-old starting pitcher completes the off-season makeover of the Cubs pitching staff that the front office knew was necessary due to several key departures. In addition, Darvish has the potential to slot into the spot in the rotation previously occupied by free agent Jake Arrieta. If healthy, Darvish can be a more than competent number two starter in any rotation. His career ERA is 3.42, slightly less than Arrieta’s career 3.57 ERA. Darvish also has a knack for missing bats, averaging 11 strikeouts for every 9-innings pitched.
The Darvish signing will also take some pressure off Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks. Quintana and Hendricks can now slot nicely into the number 3 and 4 spots in the rotation. With Jon Lester as the team’s de facto Ace and Tyler Chatwood all but guaranteed the fifth starter’s spot, that leaves Mike Montgomery, once again, as the odd man out.
In years past, Montgomery has both started and pitched out of the pen for the Cubbies. However, over the off-season, Monty expressed his desire to be a starting pitcher. Until the Darvish signing, it looked like that might be a reality for the tall left-hander in 2018. Now, it appears that Montgomery will be in the same swing man role that he has occupied for the duration of his tenure as a Northsider. Make no mistake about it, that is a good thing. Montgomery is one of the few pitchers who can start, eat up innings out of the bullpen, or get important outs at the end of the game (World Series, Game 7, 2016).
With pitchers liking to have very defined roles, having someone like Mike Montgomery is a luxury that most teams simply don’t have. With the addition of Yu Darvish, the Cubs improved both their starting rotation, their bullpen and, with their young core of position players, are in good position to compete with the National League’s elite teams for years to come.
Stats from baseball-reference.com
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