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11 February 2018, 01:26 | Pamela Mathis
Yu Darvish was the top pitcher on the free-agent market. More
Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports reported the Dodgers "were said to have offered in the same ballpark" as the Cubs, but Darvishchose to go to Chicago. The agreement is pending a physical examination.
Former TCU star Jake Arrieta, who pitched for the Cubs the past five seasons, is the top remaining starting pitcher, and some with the Rangers like Arrieta more than Darvish. The next few names on that list are Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg, Corey Kluber, Chris Archer and Madison Bumgarner. Of course, for Los Angeles to make that happen and stay under the luxury tax, they would have to make several payroll-cutting moves. As much as I love him, I don't see that happening. And it looks like the best in the NL Central. His 2017 season showed a slight decline from seasons past, both in Texas and then, after a mid-summer trade, in Los Angeles.
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With pitchers and catchers set to report to Major League Baseball spring training camps next week (and free agents who haven't signed holding their own training camp in Florida), teams and available players may be getting more serious about agreeing on some deals. For one things, Darvish was famously awful in the World Series a year ago, and his two bad performances - whether they were because of a slider-proof baseball or because he was tipping his offspeed pitches - probably cost the Dodgers a World Series title. He dominated the Cubs in the NLCS, pitching into the seventh and allowing just one run in his lone start in the series.
Wrigley Field was one of those nine strikeout-inflating environments, though it played mostly neutral as a run-scoring park during that time span, with some of the greatest year-over-year inconsistency in the latter department of any venue in the game. Six postseason starts, 2.57 ERA. Assuming he recovers from an apparent pitch-tipping issue which led to a pair of poor outings in the World Series, he should be a dominant pitcher in Chicago. Darvish's primary gains by landing with the Cubs is premium run support and a boost in terms of strikeouts, considering he spent much of his US career pitching at Texas' Globe Life Park, which severely deflates them. Ohtani signed with the Angels in the second week of December. Since 2012, only one pitcher has throwns 800 innings with a better strikeout rate than Darvish's 29.7%, and his name is Max Scherzer.
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