Photo via Chicago Cubs
By Thomas Gibbons
Eight innings, five hits, one earned and seven strikeouts. That was Yu Darvish’s stat line Tuesday night vs. Pete Alonso and the New York Mets. His performance was exactly what this team needed as they look to make their way back atop the NL Central.
It’s a no-brainer Yu Darvish has turned it up a notch since the All-Star break. After missing most of last season with injury, one could argue it took him awhile to get back in a groove. And based on his first-half of the season you could win that argument. But post All-Star break, he has been one of the best pitchers in the Cubs rotation and certainly one of the best in the national league.
Darvish did two things Tuesday night he has not done all year: he went eight innings and he debuted a new pitch. First, turning in his longest performance of the season is a positive sign. The Cubs bullpen has been worn down too many times this year due to starting pitching not being able to get it done. With the day off yesterday and only Brandon Kintzler closing it out tonight, it bodes well for the Cubs arms. Second, Darvish said post-game that he struck out two batters tonight with his new knucklecurve. “Kimbrel taught me that a week ago,” Darvish said Tuesday night. It may not become a primary pitch for Darvish, but adding another pitch to his already loaded arsenal is not a bad thing.
Over to the offense, Javier Baez went 3-3 with 3RBIs and one walk. Addison Russell went 3-4 with 2RBIs and Victor Caratini went 2-4 in the seven hole.
Theo meets the media
Theo Epstein talked with the media today at Citi Field and gave updates on several players. First off, Ben Zobrist is facing live pitching while at his home in Nashville. He’s still on track to return to the team on September 1st. Next, Anthony Rizzo remained out of the lineup with a hurt back. He left last Saturday’s game at Wrigley vs. Washington with back tightness. Epstein says Rizzo could return by the end of the Mets series. Lastly, Willson Contreras is still working back from a hamstring injury and the good news is he caught Jon Lester’s bullpen session Tuesday afternoon. There is no rehab assignment scheduled as of now.
The Cubs are in New York until Thursday before returning to Wrigley to take on the Brewers for a weekend series.