Yu Darvish said he wanted to hear "YUU!" instead of "BOO!" chanted at Wrigley Field this year during his starts.
He's about to get his chance.
It's been almost a year since Darvish last pitched at Wrigley Field (May 2 against the Rockies) and this will only be his fourth career outing at The Friendly Confines in a Cubs uniform since he signed the 6-year, $126 million contract 14 months ago.
The numbers at home last year weren't good — 0-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.87 WHIP — but then again, 2018 was forgettable for Darvish in a lot of ways even before he was shut down with a bone bruise in his right pitching arm.
Unfortunately for him and the Cubs, this season has started off the same way.
Darvish showed up to camp in Arizona looking like a different person, from the way he carried himself to the physical shape he was in to his confidence. To put it simply, he looked more free, which is exactly how he said he felt and what Joe Maddon and the rest of the Cubs coaches and front office members were seeing.
He made four starts in Cactus League play, pitching around a blister issue and throwing up a 2.25 ERA while striking out 14 batters in 12 innings.
However, he did walk 9 guys in those 12 frames and it's that lack of command that has translated to the regular season.
In two starts so far in 2019, Darvish has walked 11 of the 36 batters he's faced, with 7 of those coming in just 2.2 innings in his return to Texas in Game 2 during Opening Weekend.
His next time out, Darvish's command was much improved, but he still walked 4 batters and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs and was pulled from the game after only 71 pitches and 4 innings. He insists the blister on his pitching hand is no longer an issue.
"The first start, obviously he was out of sorts and he had a hard time throwing strikes," Theo Epstein said. "The second start, there were a lot of positives with his stuff, especially his sider and cutter. And then he faced a little bit of adversity there, struggled a little bit and the outing was over pretty quickly.
"But hopefully he can build on the positives and have a good start on Wednesday night. But I don't think it's appropriate to issue start-to-start referendum on our starting pitchers as we go. He's looking to settle in.
"The first start — as with a couple of our guys — wasn't what he looked for. He made some progress his last time and out; still certainly room for improvement going forward and I think he will."
Darvish's second start came in some tough conditions on a rainy night in Atlanta, but the weather didn't affect Braves starter Max Fried much, as he took a perfect game into the sixth inning.
Conditions will not be any better for Darvish's first home start on a cold and wet day in Chicago. Wind chill is expected to bump the temperature down to about 30 degrees for first pitch Wednesday night.
Cubs starting pitchers have accounted for the fewest innings in baseball to date (43, an average of 4.3 innings per start) and carry a 6.49 ERA into Wednesday night.