Darvish pitching like All-Star again for Cubs

MLB

Yu Darvish is finally pitching like an All-Star again, and the Chicago Cubs have emerged as early leaders in the NL Central.

The Cubs entered this season at a bit of a crossroads. Since winning the World Series in 2016, they’ve won only one postseason series. They didn’t make the playoffs at all in 2019, and David Ross replaced Joe Maddon as manager before this season.

The NL Central was hard to figure out coming into 2020, but Chicago broke out early to a 13-3 record, and the Cubs still lead the division by 3 + games even after dropping the last three games of their series against Milwaukee.

Darvish took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Brewers in Chicago’s 4-2 victory Thursday night.

A four-time All-Star with Texas, Darvish was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, then signed with the Cubs. He’s dealt with elbow and triceps injuries while with Chicago, but this year he’s 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA and playing an important role in his team’s fast start.

The Cubs are winning despite a .182 batting average from Kris Bryant and a rough start for Craig Kimbrel. Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester have both been solid in the rotation along with Darvish.

It’s hard to say who the top challenger to the Cubs will be in the division. St. Louis won it last year, but the Cardinals have played only eight games in 2020 because of the coronavirus. Milwaukee has scrambled back to .500 with those victories over Chicago.

SOUTH SIDE

Chicago’s other team has made its presence felt as well, although the White Sox haven’t shown as much consistency as the Cubs. The White Sox are 11-11, but they showed some of their potential Sunday by slugging four consecutive home runs in a 7-2 win over St. Louis.

Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez went deep during that streak. With batting champion Tim Anderson and star rookie Luis Robert also in the mix, the White Sox are an entertaining dark horse in the American League.

TRIVIA TIME

Texas right-hander Lance Lynn is 3-0 with a major league-leading 1.11 ERA. Who is the last pitcher from the Rangers to win the American League ERA title?

HIGHLIGHT

Washington’s Asdrubal Cabrera went head first over the dugout railing Thursday while making a catch in foul ground.

The New York Mets momentarily put social distancing concerns aside, rushing over to help keep Cabrera from falling all the way in.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Mookie Betts of the Dodgers hit three home runs Thursday night in an 11-2 victory over San Diego. Betts has already tied a record with his sixth career three-homer game.

It’s been a fine start for Betts after being traded from Boston to Los Angeles. He’s hitting .314 with eight home runs, and the Dodgers are right where they were expected to be – atop the NL West. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are languishing in the AL East cellar.

Coming into Sunday’s games, Betts had been worth 1.8 wins above replacement, according to baseball-reference.com. Nobody on the Red Sox had been worth even half as much WAR.

TRIVIA ANSWER

It’s a bit of a trick question, but Rick Honeycutt led the AL with a 2.42 ERA for the Rangers in 1983. He didn’t finish the season with them, however. Honeycutt was traded to the Dodgers that August – Los Angeles gave up future 20-game winner Dave Stewart in the deal — and his ERA with Texas held up as the AL’s best.

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