SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — More on new Cubs starter Yu Darvish below, but here’s a good summary from pitching coach Jim Hickey on how Darvish has prepared for this season:
“What has been the biggest surprise is that I’m not surprised at anything, and that’s not to say it hasn’t been impressive because it’s been very impressive,” Hickey said on Friday, one day prior to Darvish’s Cubs debut. “I’ve been watching him for a number of years from the other side and it’s always been very impressive.
“I’m maybe a little surprised, if you will, at the velocity as he’s crept up to 98 miles an hour in Spring Training,” Hickey said. “He’s showing me what I’ve seen and what I’ve known about him for a number of years now.”
Darvish himself was skeptical of the ballpark radar that showed him at 98:
Radar gun at Camelback Ranch showed #Cubs Darvish fastball hit 98 mph. Yu: "I think there's something wrong with the speed gun"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 16, 2018
Still, it seems that Darvish has fixed whatever was wrong with him during the World Series last year with the Dodgers and he’s ready to go to have a really good year as a Cub.
Note about Friday’s game:
How unique was the #Cubs early 17 inning game? Elias says the only time in ML history in which teams played 17 innings in either 1st or 2nd game of year was April 9, 1969, when KC beat Twins 4-3 in 17 innings in 2nd game of year— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 31, 2018
It should be noted that the Cubs played a 16-inning game in the second game of the 2014 season, April 2, 2014 at Pittsburgh. They lost that one too, 4-3 — after losing a 1-0, 10-inning Opening Day game there.
Here are today’s particulars.
Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Odrisamer Despaigne, RHP
Yu Darvish has faced the Marlins twice in his career. The first time, June 11, 2014, he threw a six-hit, complete-game shutout. The second time, last July 26, was his last start as a Ranger before he was traded to the Dodgers. Trust me, you do not want to click on that boxscore link. Both of those games were in Texas.
Darvish had a good spring, posting a 2.79 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in five starts covering 19⅓ innings. He walked five and struck out 20.
Current Marlins are a very small sample size 4-for-25 against Darvish with 12 strikeouts. Let’s hope that trend continues.
Odrisamer Despaigne hasn’t faced the Cubs since... Friday night, when he threw the 17th inning for the Marlins. He retired all three hitters he faced and threw 11 pitches. His only other career appearance against the Cubs was May 21, 2015, while he was with the Padres. He threw six good innings, allowing two runs, both of which scored on a home run by Kris Bryant.
Whether throwing that inning in Friday’s game will affect him today remains to be seen.
Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago.
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The 2018 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2017. Here's how it works.
You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).
At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.
You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream as noted above.
The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.
Discuss amongst yourselves.