8 MLB pitchers that need to deliver for postseason hopefuls

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the Washington Nationals during the second inning in Game Four of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park on October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Jose Urquidy #65 of the Houston Astros delivers the pitch against the Washington Nationals during the second inning in Game Four of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park on October 26, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

8 MLB pitchers that need to deliver for contenders

Yu guessed it

The Chicago Cubs did virtually nothing this off-season, preferring to ride with a team that went 84-78 and missed the playoffs in 2019. That means the Cubs are betting big time on their returnees, none more so than Yu Darvish.

To find the reason why you need to look no further than his contract, which will net him $22 million in its third of six seasons. To date Darvish has underwhelmed, spending much of 2018 sidelined by injuries before going 6-8 in 31 starts in 2019.

If you are a Cubs fan, you see those numbers and immediately go into rationalization mode. There is a basis for that reaction. Darvish was better over the season’s second half, delivering a .199 batting average against after May 31. In that pennant pressure, his control noticeably sharpened: He walked 41 batters prior to June 1, only 15 after June 1.

If the Cubs get the post-June 1 Yu Darvish, maybe there’s a reason to keep the band together. Based on his 56-42 pre-Cubs record, he’s obviously capable of being a staff leader.

At the same time, the Cubs have no valid backup plan. If he gets hurt again or can’t find the plate, the result could be a standings freefall the like of which Cubs fans haven’t seen in a decade.

Darvish, in other words, is the Cubs’ pitching linchpin.