Yu Darvish is an absolute freak of nature, a man whose digital dexterity enables him to throw no fewer than 10 different pitches with regularity. But, Evan, there aren’t even 10 different types of pitches out there. Yeah, that’s what makes Darvish so unique. He can throw subtle variations of several different offerings, even picking up the knuckle-curve during a pregame bullpen and then unleashing it in the game.
Like I said, dude’s a freak
Not content with with his unprecedented repertoire and an incredible strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, the ambidextrous righty — oh, did I forget to mention that he can switch-hit and throw lefty? — decided to invent a new pitch. Dubbed the “Supreme,” Darvish created a mashup of a two-seam and splitter that he can throw in the mid-90’s with legit movement.
Though it’s impossible to say how the pitch will perform in actual competition, he felt good about the Supreme to throw it in Saturday’s scrimmage. Based on that confidence and what we’ve seen already, I wouldn’t bet against Darvish this season. If you’re interested in a wager one way or the other, however, this reference can help you find the right spot.
Darvish has been the odds-on favorite to take the mound on Opening Day after effectively establishing himself as the staff ace last season. As pitching coach Tommy Hottovy told reporters prior to Sunday’s workout, the Cubs feel good enough about Darvish to let him do pretty much whatever he wants out there.
“We want our guys to feel comfortable on the mound no matter what,” Hottovy explained. “If he feels comfortable having a pocket full of pitches that he can whip out at any time, then we want him to have the reins off him to be able to do that.”
If it wasn’t already clear from his frequent Twitter updates that Darvish was keeping up on his workouts, hitting 97 mph in the scrimmage offered proof positive. That’s very good news for the Cubs who were going to need their starting staff to be sharp right out of the gate even before the news that José Quintana had injured his left thumb in a dish-washing incident.
The bullpen is now more important than ever and Hottovy says the goal is to have at least three relievers ready to throw up to three innings by the start of the season. To that end, the Cubs are essentially working with seven or eight men in the “rotation,” treating a larger than normal group as starters in order to get them stretched out so that they can put in multiple innings once camp ends.
While absolutely nothing about this season is ideal, this is where having a more experienced group of starters could really work out well for the Cubs. As long as pride doesn’t get in the way, they should understand their limits and be able to work within them early on. Having several piggyback-type relievers will help with that, though it’ll be even better if the five actual starters are capable of pitching five innings right out of the chute.
Darvish sure looks like he’s in mid-season form already, now we just have to wait and see how the next couple of weeks play out.