The Rundown: Yu Darvish 2020 Report Card, Cubs Address Hitting Woes by Letting Sledge Walk, Dodgers One Win from 2020 Championship
It’s nearly impossible to overstate the performance of Yu Darvish this season, a career year for the 34-year-old righty.
- Career-low ERA (2.01) and FIP (2.23)
- A 6.65 strikeout-to-walk rate, easily the best of his career
- His best-ever WHIP (0.961)
- With a 221 ERA+, Darvish nearly doubled his previous best, set in 2013, when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting.
Is Yu Darvish currently the best pitcher in the NL? pic.twitter.com/QZVHFEpj6U
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) August 30, 2020
His league-leading FIP could be the difference this year, as Darvish is considered by some as the favorite to win the award given annually to the league’s best pitcher. One formula projects the ace to win the award by a wide margin over Trevor Bauer of the Reds and Jacob deGrom of the Mets. Darvish also led the Senior Circuit in fWAR (3.0), trailing only Shane Bieber of Cleveland (3.2) among all starters in baseball. Bieber is considered a lock to win the award in the American League.
Thanks to an historic repertoire of pitches, Big Yu posted a personal-best eight wins in his career with the Cubs, a 22-win pace for a full season. There’s no doubt Darvish has been elite since turning it around after the 2019 All-Star Break. With a long rest after a shortened season, he may be even better next season.
- Final Stats: 76 IP, 93/14 K/BB, 8 W, 2.01 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 3.0 fWAR
- Final Grade: A+
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs parted ways with assistant hitting coach Terrmel Sledge, who appears to be this year’s fall guy, but Anthony Iapoce will be retained for next year.
- Iapoce “absolutely” likes the Cubs’ chances in 2021 if the team decides to retain its core players.
- Including assistants, Theo Epstein has fired 10 hitting coaches in his tenure with Chicago.
- Epstein may still be undecided about immediate future, and is reportedly still kicking the can on whether or not he should remain with the team in 2021.
- Darvish and Kyle Hendricks are at the peaks of their careers right now and the Cubs should do whatever they can to field a championship team around the co-aces.
- David Ross has been getting generally favorable marks for his first year managing the team.
- Thanks to a remarkable turnaround by Craig Kimbrel and a terrific season by Jeremy Jeffress, the bullpen was one of the team’s strengths this year.
- With the World Series being played at a neutral site for the first time in the game’s history, it’s worth noting that dialogue existed that could have kept the league from allowing games at Wrigley field had the 1984 Cubs won the NL pennant.
Odds & Sods
Through 17 playoff games, Corey Seager is batting .323 with 20 runs, 8 homers, and 19 RBI. Though there is no doubt the Cubs offense suffered from systemic failure among its core players, a Seager-like hot streak by any or all of those batters at the end of the season would have changed that narrative substantially.
- Kris Bryant – .258 BA, 40 R, 12 HR, 30 RBI
- Anthony Rizzo – .256 BA, 46 R, 19 HR, 43 RBI
- Javier Báez – .238 BA, 47 R, 16 HR, 43 RBI
- Willson Contreras – .274 BA, 57 R, 15 HR, 45 RBI
- Ian Happ – .284 BA, 47 R, 20 HR, 47 RBI
Other than the batting averages, which show just how bad the Cubs were during the 60-game season, those aren’t bad statistics through 77 games.
Out of Left Field
He’s rooting for the Dodgers this year, but baseball allegiance is all about being on brand for LeBron James.
Move over Drake. LeBron is the ultimate baseball bandwagoner. 😅 pic.twitter.com/9t2URLVPqU
— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) October 21, 2020
Clayton Kershaw wasn’t as sharp as in his Game 1 start, allowing one run and two hits in six innings, and the Rays nearly got to him with two runs in the 3rd inning, including an RBI single from the seemingly unstoppable Randy Arozarena, but he was just sharp enough to put the Dodgers one victory away from their first World Series championship since 1988.
After getting two outs on two pitches to start the bottom of the 6th inning, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled his starter and turned the game over to part-time starter Dustin May. Reliever Blake Treinen struck out two in the 9th to earn the first postseason save of his career in the 4-2 win.
The two teams are off today and the Series will resume with Game 6 tomorrow night, and Game 7 on Wednesday night, if necessary.
How About That!
Stealing home? In the World Series? It was worth the risk for Manuel Margot in the 4th inning last night, and had Hunter Renfroe, who was on first base after walking, been able to break for second, Margot might have been found success drawing Kershaw into a rundown.
Arozarena set the record for most hits in a single postseason after his 3rd-inning base hit against Kershaw. The 25-year-old rookie now has 27 hits in this year’s playoffs and, unbelievably, his run-scoring single in the 3rd inning of last night’s game was his first of the 27 that came with a runner in scoring position.
Home runs have been responsible for more than half the scoring since the playoffs started.
Rob Manfred believes that the league will return to status quo next season as far as pandemic-related rules changes, though he would like to eliminate the shift.
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said both the team and DH Nelson Cruz have “mutual interest” in continuing their partnership.
Good for Kershaw. With a 4-1 record ad a 37/5 strikeout-to-walk rate, the veteran lefty must finally feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders.
Clayton Kershaw has been a major league pitcher for 12 years and a father for nearly six. His children have seen transcendent success and crushing failure.
Until Sunday, they had not watched their father walk off a postseason mound to an ovation. https://t.co/nF015XUlCN
— Stephanie Apstein (@stephapstein) October 26, 2020
Sliding Into Home
“Marathoning. The triumph of desire over reason.” – New Balance ad campaign from the 1990’s.
I ran a virtual marathon for charity yesterday, my first attempt at conquering the 26-mile endurance challenge. At 24.16 miles, I fell slightly short of my goal after my right hamstring seized up. Still, I’m proud of my accomplishment and I raised over $800 for the American Lung Association. I’ll give it another shot next year when I’ll have more than a month to train.
They Said It
- “I love our guys, man. I really think going forward next year, however many games we play — whether we get 160 or 140 — those guys are going to be who they have been through their careers.” – Anthony Iapoce
- “For a family man, it was ideal. You get up in the morning, you take your kid to school, you play a game, you come home and have dinner with your family. But if I would throw a complete game at night at Dodger Stadium, I might lose anywhere from two to maybe four or five pounds. When I would pitch a typical complete game at Wrigley, I would lose anywhere from eight pounds to … I lost 14 pounds one time in a nine-inning game. I literally had to get IVs because of all the weight I lost.” – Rick Sutcliffe
- “I think in all likelihood we will return — and I think all of the COVID-related rule changes, right, and in that bucket it’s the extra-inning rule, the 7-inning doubleheaders, the DH in the National League — those rules, uh, we will return to the status quo absent an agreement with the players.” – Rob Manfred
Monday Walk Up Song
Estimated Prophet by the Grateful Dead – Kudos to Fox Sports for playing this song as a lead to the commercial break at the end of the 2nd inning yesterday, and for also playing “Althea” heading into the 6th inning break. I never thought I’d see the day.