Cubs

Report: Cubs make huge splash with Yu Darvish signing

Report: Cubs make huge splash with Yu Darvish signing

Finally!

The crazy-dull baseball offseason is finally leaning into the "Hot Stove" season.

The Cubs have reportedly reached an agreement with free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish:

The two sides have been linked since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer paid Darvish a visit down in Texas in mid-December that lasted several hours.

There've been several Darvish links and rumors since then, but the Cubs finally reached an agreement with the 31-year-old right-hander Saturday afternoon. This comes after the Cubs inked a deal last month with veteran catcher Chris Gimenez, who emerged as Darvish's personal catcher in Texas in 2014.

Darvish is a four-time All-Star who finished second in American League Cy Young voting in 2013 and ninth in the award race during his rookie season in 2012.

He missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery, with the injury also sapping big chunks out of his 2014 and 2016 seasons.

Darvish went 10-12 with a 3.86 ERA last season with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers, striking out 209 batters in 186.2 innings. He has 1,021 career whiffs in 832.1 innings, good for an 11.0 K/9 rate.

Darvish shut down the Cubs in the NLCS last fall, limiting the high-powered lineup to just a solo homer in 6.1 innings. But he was rocked in two World Series appearances, surrendering 9 runs (8 earned) on 9 hits and 2 walks while getting just 10 outs. However, he was supposedly tipping his pitches - an easily-correctable problem if that was, indeed, the issue that led to his Fall Classic struggles.

This gives the Cubs arguably the best rotation in baseball, with Darvish slotting in with Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood. Mike Montgomery provides depth as the next man up out of the bullpen if anybody were to miss time with an injury.

The addition of Darvish only boosts the Cubs' profile as one of the top World Series contenders in baseball.

And it's safe to say Willson Contreras is fired up about the addition.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.

At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.

Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.

Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here: