In one of the biggest trades last offseason, the Chicago Cubs sent pitcher Yu Darvish and his personal catcher, Victor Caratini, to the San Diego Padres for pitcher Zach Davies and four minor league prospects.
On Tuesday night, Davies extracted revenge on the Padres. He allowed one hit in six shutout innings in a 7-1 Cubs win that evened the three-game series at one victory apiece heading into the Wednesday afternoon rubber match.
Now it’s Darvish’s turn.
Darvish (6-1, 2.25 ERA) will start for the Padres against the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (5-6, 5.26).
“I think there’s always a little extra incentive for a pitcher the first time he faces his old team,” Padres manager Jayce Tingler prophetically said Tuesday afternoon before Davies dominated his club’s struggling offense.
As for Darvish …
“I just like pitching against anyone,” he said recently through an interpreter when asked about facing the Cubs.
In 2020, Darvish had an 8-3 record with a 2.01 ERA, a 0.961 WHIP and a .211 opponents’ batting average in 12 starts for Chicago. He finished second to Trevor Bauer in the National League Cy Young Award voting (as well as the ERA race) and was 14th in the league’s Most Valuable Player voting. He led the league in wins, and the Cubs were 9-3 in the games he started.
Coincidentally, he has made 12 starts for the Padres this season, and his numbers pretty much parallel those of 2020. In addition to the 2.25 ERA, Darvish has a 0.931 WHIP and a .193 opponents’ batting average. The Padres are 11-1 when he starts.
Darvish has averaged exactly six innings a start for the Padres. He has allowed 20 runs (18 earned) on 50 hits and 17 walks with 84 strikeouts — for an average of 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings with nearly a 5-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
“In every sense, Darvish has to be considered an ace,” Tingler said recently. “He meets all the criteria.”
One of those benchmarks is halting a skid before it becomes gains momentum, which is the task Wednesday. The Padres are 3-7 since a 16-3 run ended. Darvish’s last win snapped a four-game losing streak.
Another streak ends for the Padres on Wednesday, who will play their 20th game in 20 days.
“It’s been a long run and we have a couple of guys scuffling,” said Tingler of a club that has lost four of five meetings with the Cubs over the past nine days.
Speaking of aces, Arrieta was once one. He won the National League Cy Young Award while with the Cubs in 2015 when he was 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. He finished ninth in the Cy Young voting in both 2014 and 2016 and had a 50-19 record over that three-season run.
Arrieta has earned a decision in all 11 of his 21 starts this year. He has a 1.491 WHIP and a .273 opponents’ batting average. He has given up 35 runs (31 earned) on 57 hits and 22 walks with 42 strikeouts in 53 innings.
No matter the outcome Wednesday, manager David Ross is happy with the way his Cubs have played against the Padres.
“San Diego is a very good team,” Ross said Wednesday. “We’ve won the season series. Any time you do that against a good team, it’s a plus.”
–Field Level Media