Yu Darvish, Chicago Cubs
Although the Chicago Cubs completely collapsed over the final two weeks of 2019, there were some bright spots. One was seeing Yu Darvish return to being the elite pitcher they’re paying him to be. His 6-8 record, 3.98 ERA, and 2.6 fWAR through 178.2 innings is probably the definition of a mixed bag, but it doesn’t show the roller coaster he went on from one half to another.
Through his first 97 innings, Darvish struggled to a 5.01 ERA. Upon coming back from the All-Star break, that number dropped all the way down to 2.76 over his final 81.2 frames. There were a number of things that went in a positive direction for the right-hander, but the most noticeable was his control.
After whiffing 26.5% of hitters in the first half, that increased significantly to 37.8%. Meanwhile, his walk rate went from 11.7% to 2.2%. He literally went from having the fourth-highest first-half walk rate to finishing the second half with the lowest. As long as he doesn’t opt out (which doesn’t seem likely), this step forward is something the Cubs would love to see at the start of Darvish’s third year with the organization.