Yu Darvish boasts upwards of 12 pitches — some of which are different versions of a specific pitch.
So, how hard is it to hit the Cubs’ ace and his unpredictable arsenal? Very — just ask Cubs outfielder Ian Happ.
The Cubs held an intrasquad game at Wrigley Field on Saturday, pitting Darvish against Kyle Hendricks. Happ led off for Hendricks’ squad, and on the latest episode of “The Compound” podcast described the downright unfair plate appearance he had against Darvish.
“First at-bat of this spring training, I’m facing Sir Yu Darvish. He’s a pretty good pitcher,” Happ said. “I’m leading off the game — he throws me a first pitch ball. I’m like, alright, it’s 1-0, he’s just gonna throw me a fastball right down the middle, we’re gonna even it up at 1-1.”
Darvish didn’t throw a fastball.
“He throws me a slider,” Happ said. “He throws me a slider his second pitch, my second pitch I’ve seen. I swung and I thought I was hitting a home run — I missed it probably by six feet.
"Is that so, Yu? Is that so? 1-0 sliders for the first hitter of camp?”
Darvish clarified on Twitter his second pitch actually was a cutter, but Happ’s experience exemplifies how difficult it is facing the right-hander. “He literally has 15 pitches, so he’s not gonna double up,” Cubs infielder Zack Short said.
That was Cutter Ian.— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) July 7, 2020
“He’s a tough guy to prepare for,” Happ added.
Cubs pitcher Dakota Mekkes said he would have thrown a fastball. But with the arsenal Darvish has, it only makes sense to go against conventional wisdom in certain situations.
“If I’m Yu Darvish, I’m throwing one of my other 15 pitches that I know I can put wherever I want and they can’t hit,” Mekkes said. “He can throw whatever he wants.”
That he can, including his latest pitch — "Supreme" — a two-seam/splitter hybrid.
これがスプリームです🤗— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) June 20, 2020