Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs
When and Where: Wednesday, July 17, Wrigley Field, Chicago, Ill., 2:20 p.m. EDT.
Yu Darvish has every right to be frustrated with not ending his lengthy winless spell last time out but every reason to be encouraged with his performance.
Darvish again seeks his first victory since late April on Wednesday when the Chicago Cubs conclude their three-game series versus the Cincinnati Reds.
Gray looks to continue roll started before All-Star break
Sonny Gray (5-5, 3.42 ERA) is looking to extend his personal winning streak to four games, but he has been very sharp in the three bracketing the All-Star break, winning two while posting a 1.27 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 21 1-3 innings.
— NY Yankees News (@YankeesNewsFeed) July 15, 2019
Gray — an injury replacement addition to the NL All-Star team — pitched well enough to deserve a third straight winning start Friday at Coors Field, limiting Colorado to one run and seven hits in seven innings while striking out nine. He left with the lead before the Reds bullpen faltered in a 3-2 defeat.
“I feel confident. I feel good mentally. I feel good physically,” Gray told the team’s official website. “I just feel like I’m throwing the ball pretty well. I just want to continue to do that every time I go out there.”
When Gray has kept the ball down against the Cubs this year, good things have happened. He is 1-0 in two starts and all five runs he has given up over 11 1-3 innings in those games have scored on home runs.
His only other start versus Chicago was a loss with Oakland in 2016, and he will be making his first appearance at Wrigley Field. Albert Almora Jr. had one of those home runs and is 3 for 4 versus Gray.
Darvish hopes winless streak ends at 13 starts
What may be the most impressive part of Darvish‘s winless streak is that he has recorded only one decision in his last 13 starts, a 5-3 home loss to Atlanta on June 26.
Yu Darvish, Filthy 79mph Curveball. 😷 pic.twitter.com/TiupnPBZjv
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 12, 2019
On Friday, Darvish held an opponent to one or no runs while pitching at least six innings for the third time during his winless run, stifling the Pittsburgh Pirates on a pair of singles and a walk while striking out eight in six frames. The Cubs put together a three-run rally in the seventh en route to an eventual 4-3 win, but Darvish seemed content with the performance while noting the differences pitching injury-free.
“So last year, I had the elbow issue and I was doing rehab for eight weeks. Most of the time, I’d feel the pain with the fastball,” he told the Cubs’ official website. “I would try to feel less pain with a different arm slot. That’s why this year, the first eight weeks I had a weird feeling for the fastball. I don’t have any pain in the elbow, but I think my brain remembered that.”
Darvish is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in eight starts at Wrigley during his winless run, and the worst of those came against Cincinnati on May 25. He was drilled for season worsts of six runs and 12 hits in seven-plus innings, though the Cubs eventually won that game 8-6.
His other start against the Reds also came during his winless run, striking out 11 in 5 1-3 innings while yielding two runs and five hits in a 6-5, 10-inning road loss May 15. Darvish is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in five career starts versus Cincinnati and has struck out 36 in 31 innings.
Reds second baseman Derek Dietrich gas given Darvish some problems, going 4 for 9 with a pair of homers.
The Reds are:
- 8-0 in Gray’s last eight starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 6-0 in Gray’s last six starts vs. NL Central teams.
- 5-1 in Gray’s last six starts.
The Cubs are:
- 1-4 in Darvish’s last six starts during game 3 of a series.
- 1-5 in Darvish’s last six Wednesday starts.
- 1-4 in their last five during game 3 of a series.