Why going slow has led to fast start for Yu Darvish

  • Cubs starter Yu Darvish, throwing Tuesday against St. Louis, is one of the best pitchers in the league, manager David Ross said.

    Cubs starter Yu Darvish, throwing Tuesday against St. Louis, is one of the best pitchers in the league, manager David Ross said. Associated Press

Updated 8/19/2020 2:09 PM

It took more than four hours to play the Cubs' 6-3 victory over St. Louis Tuesday night. But maybe the long wait was tied to another quality start from Yu Darvish.

After the game, Darvish talked about a change in his approach that began paying off midway through last season.


"I think I changed my pace pitching," Darvish said. "I'm a slow guy, when I was in Japan. After I came here, a lot of guys wanted me to throw a quick as possible. That didn't work for me.

"When I focus on that (going fast), I can't focus on my pitch and I walk everybody. In June and July last year, I talked with (pitching coach) Tommy (Hottovy) and I wanted to focus more on pitches, not on the tempo. After that, I felt more comfortable and getting better results."

Darvish is off to a great start this season. In five starts, he's 4-1 with a 1.80 ERA and career-best strikeouts-to-walk ratio of 6.8 (34-5).

The improvement began in the second half of last season when Darvish posted a 2.76 ERA and outrageous strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16.9 (118-7) after the all-star break.

"He's a stud," Cubs manager David Ross said. "What he has kind of grown into and how comfortable he is here with executing a game plan, mixing his pitches, full repertoire of pitches. He looks really comfortable on the mound at all times. Even with traffic, he still continues to execute pitches."

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The highlight of Tuesday's outing was escaping a bases-loaded, nobody out situation in the fourth with no damage. Darvish got a ground ball to the pitcher, strikeout and line out to end the inning.

This is what the Cubs had in mind when they signed Darvish to a six-year, $126-million deal in 20018. He can reach the mid-90s with his fastball and might throw the widest variety of pitches of anyone in the majors.

"He's, for me, one of the best pitchers in the league," Ross said. "He keeps you off-balance, he's tough to have a game plan in the box as a hitter, his stuff is electric. You've got to respect so many different pitches and he can throw them to both sides of the plate. This guy is a premier pitcher in my mind."

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