Excited murmurs rippled through blue-clad sections of the sellout crowd at Camelback Ranch Friday when the scoreboard displayed a 98 after a Yu Darvish fastball. He’s averaged 93-94 mph over the course of his career, which means he can flash upper 90’s, but getting within kissing distance of triple digits?
“I think there’s something wrong with the speed gun,” Darvish quipped after the game.
Even if the gun was running a little hot, the big righty was clearly cutting loose some pretty serious heat of his own. From the looks of it, the breaking stuff was working pretty well too.
This slider Darvish threw to Anderson wasn't very fair pic.twitter.com/SZGchjz9lb
— Ozzie (@OzzieStern) March 16, 2018
Holy wow, that is filthy. And it’s something Cubs fans are going to love getting used to, as Darvish can mix pitches, speeds, and timing like no other. That’s not a new concept by any stretch, but when paired with Mike Borzello and Jim Hickey in Chicago, Darvish may well be able to further develop some of the skills and techniques that have served him well thus far.
Beyond the inherent deception that comes from throwing several pitches from the same release point, that could mean messing with his timing. Because Darvish pitches exclusively from the stretch, it’s good for him to mix things up a little bit. Think Jon Lester with runners on base or maybe Johnny Cueto always.
Yu Darvish, Messing with Timing. pic.twitter.com/X42nD46ROZ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 13, 2018
That clip obviously wasn’t from his outing against the White Sox, but I included it to offer a visual example of what I’m talking about. Setting aside the actual numbers on the gun and the intentional changes in his timing, Darvish just wants to smooth things out and avoid running out of gas early.
“I have to keep up the consistency,” he told Carrie Muskat. “The velocity was up there in the first three and the fourth inning, but it went down in the fifth inning. That’s what I’ll keep working on.”
Darvish allowed only one run on three hits and a walk, striking out four in five innings of work. If that’s what he does when he’s not at his best, I can’t wait to see what happens when he gets up to speed, figuratively speaking. You know what else I’m excited about? His hitting.
Darvish singled on a slider in Friday’s game, the first this spring in which he’s hit for himself. Playing in the AL for nearly his entire career means he hasn’t gotten much of an opportunity to show what he can do at the plate, but he’s a tremendous athlete and may very well have a surprise or three in store.
That was certainly the case when a pair of bloggers meandered over to one of Sloan’s backfields to see Darvish taking BP from the left side of the plate. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that he’s listed as a righty batter. And wouldn’t you know it, Darvish took one out.
In case you’re interested in Yu Darvish hitting a BP homer. pic.twitter.com/UMF5dM41rP
— Cubs Insider (@realcubsinsider) March 8, 2018
Oh boy, this dude is going to be fun to watch.