Yu Darvish struggled in the first couple innings against the Diamondbacks on Saturday, giving up back-to-back solo home runs in the first and then two straight walks to begin the second inning. Those free passes led to a run and a 3-0 deficit for the Cubs. However, Darvish settled down after his shaky start and was showing off his filthy stuff.
Darvish finally found a groove and was looking good, as he retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced, striking out seven in five innings. Yet, with two outs and no one base in the bottom of the fifth inning Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to pinch hit for Darvish, sending Mark Zagunis to the plate.
Zagunis struck out and then Allen Webster gave up three runs in the sixth inning. Once again, Maddon pulled Darvish early and the bullpen immediately gave up runs.
Putting in a pinch hitter with two outs and no one on base doesn’t exactly give the Cubs a good chance of scoring. Again, Darvish was looking good and had only thrown 88 pitches, but for some reason Maddon keeps pulling him early.
We’ve seen it against the Pirates on April 10, when Darvish was pulled with one out in the sixth and runners on first and third. The Pirates went on to score two runs off the bullpen.
On April 4, Maddon took Darvish out in the fifth inning after a double and a walk in a 1-0 game. The Cubs bullpen allowed both of those runners to score and also gave up two additional runs to the Braves that inning.
This has to stop. It’s not Darvish is laboring in these starts, getting pulled after 71 and 77 pitches in the game against the Braves and Pirates, respectively, and only 88 pitches on Saturday against the Diamondbacks.
Let Yu pitch, Joe. Especially when you’re going to relievers who aren’t necessarily dependable to keep the score where it is.