5 reasons the Chicago Cubs will still win NL Central

DENVER, CO - APRIL 20: Kyle Schwarber
DENVER, CO - APRIL 20: Kyle Schwarber /
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CHICAGO, IL – MAY 02: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Colorado Rockiesat Wrigley Field on May 2, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 11-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

3. Yu Darvish finds it

There’s no easy way to sugarcoat it — Yu Darvish has been absolutely horrendous for the Cubs this year. With Jason Heyward’s contract looking like more of an albatross by the day, Theo Epstein and the front office have to be more than a little concerned about the six years and $126 million they stuck themselves with by signing the 31-year-old right-hander.

Six starts in, and Darvish has yet to register a win for the Cubs. He has a 6.00 ERA after 30 innings and has allowed 31 hits and six home runs. It is also troubling that he is walking a career-high 4.8 per nine. On the flip side, however, Darvish has struck out 11.1 per nine and continues to get a high rate of whiffs on all of his pitches.

All of this points to a star pitcher struggling to get comfortable in a new city, not to a broken-down arm that will never return to his former glory. Darvish was stellar in the first two rounds of the playoffs last year before getting shelled in the World Series by the Houston Astros.

Darvish’s velocity has been fine, exactly in line with last season and his career norms. He has run into more issues with his slider, allowing a .528 slugging percentage on the pitch this year. That number sat all the way down at .286 last year with six home runs on the pitch. Darvish has already surrendered three longballs on his slider this year.

Though it looks broken, Darvish’s slider is just fine. His whiff percentage on the pitch is up from 30.3 last year to 31.0 this year and he is piling up strikeouts with it. The hangers this year, however, are being pounded. There is nothing that points to Darvish being anything but dominant down the stretch.