Yu Darvish picked up his second victory last night, holding the Tigers to one run in 6.1 innings, but it wasn’t especially pretty.
He handed out five walks, needed 121 pitches to record 19 outs, and left with a pair of runners on base before the bullpen bailed him out.
And overall through his first three starts Darvish has been effective without being hugely impressive, going 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA despite nearly as many walks (13) as strikeouts (14) and a total of 32 baserunners in 17.2 innings.
Thanks to the pitch-by-pitch data at Brooks Baseball we can take a deeper look at Darvish’s arsenal so far and his 333 total pitches break down as follows: 156 four-seam fastballs, 99 sinkers, 84 sliders, 60 cureveballs, 54 cutters, and 10 pitches classified as either a changeup or splitter.
Not many pitchers have five different pitches they throw regularly, but that diverse repertoire certainly matches the scouting report on Darvish from Japan. As for how fast he’s throwing them, Darvish has averaged 94.4 miles per hour with his fastball and 93.4 mph with his sinker. His slider clocks in at 83.2 mph and his curveball at 76.6 mph.
He’s gotten hitters to swing at 42.9 percent of his pitches and they’ve made contact 81.8 percent of the time, both of which are worse than the MLB average. That matches what my eyes have told me watching Darvish’s starts, which is that his raw stuff is very good but his command has been much shakier than expected and the hitters’ ability to lay off his numerous off-speed pitches has been surprising as well.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.