Cubs

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish crashed Jake Arrieta's party, but Cubs bullpen falters

Yu Darvish was one pitch away.

Holding onto a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning, Darvish threw Phillies catcher JT Realmuto a 2-2 cutter. It made sense - Darvish had been spotting that pitch well all night, and the Phillies were averaging a paltry 79.8 mph exit velocity against it.

With one strike standing between Darvish and a 6-inning shutout, Realmuto took Darvish’s cutter and sent it back up the middle for a game-tying RBI single. A 2-RBI triple from César Hernández followed. In the blink of an eye, what was shaping up to be one of Darvish’s finest moments in Chicago was instead reduced to yet another start spent searching for silver linings.

“Really good. He was outstanding tonight,” Joe Maddon said. “He pitched really well.

“He had really good stuff. He had command of his stuff, he had command of himself. I thought he was outstanding - even better than what he looked like in Cincinnati. I thought that was probably his best game for us to date.”

Darvish has continued to lean heavily on his cutter this season, more so than any year prior. After throwing it 13 percent of the time last season, he’s going to that pitch almost 25 percent of the time now. If that holds, it’d beat his previous career-high, set in 2013, by six percentage points.

All things considered, that pitch has actually been good for him this season. It’s his go-to offering when he needs to induce weak contact, and batters are hitting .125 against it so far. He gets batters to chase cutters 29.5 percent of the time, the most of any pitch he throws. While he has admitted in games past that he relies too heavily on his fastball, Maddon sees no issues with the new trend.

“I have no concerns with that whatsoever,” he said. “There’s different ways for pitchers to attack hitters, and if it's successful, I really would not change a whole lot.”

Though the night was dedicated to celebrating one of the franchises most beloved pitchers, it was one of their most maligned that continued to show signs of figuring it out. He’s put together back-to-back starts with three or less walks for the first time this season, and has allowed two or less runs in three of the last five.

The pitcher even stepped off the mound during Arrieta’s first at-bat, in order to let the standing ovation continue on.

“He’s is a legend in Chicago,” Darvish said after the game. “And I pitched against him and pitched pretty good, so it makes me confident.”

The bullpen again struggled on Monday night, as the trio of Mike Montgomery, Brad Brach, and Kyle Ryan allowed two runs on five hits, including the game-winning solo home run from Realmuto in the 10th. For a moment it looked like the Cubs had a win wrapped up when Brach got outfielder Andrew McCutchen to bite on a two-strike slider, but was (probably incorrectly) called a checked swing.  He would eventually draw a walk, leading to Jean Segura’s game-tying single.

“On the field, I thought for sure [that McCutchen swung],” Brach said. “Looking at the first base umpire, I was a little taken aback. That’s why I went off the mound - just to regather myself, because I didn’t want to let the emotion get to me there.

“It’s a 50-50 call, and unfortunately it didn’t go my way.”

 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream

How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

Part of MLB’s Tuesday financial proposal that riled up the players union involves a salary sliding scale that would theoretically spotlight the growing gaps between haves and have nots among players.

This part of the proposal, reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, would mean players with the league’s highest salaries take the biggest pay cuts, and it could have a disproportionate effect on a Cubs team with one of biggest payrolls in game.

The Cubs entered 2020 with a projected luxury tax payroll of $216.65 million, fourth in MLB behind the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers. Prior to baseball’s shutdown, three Cubs were set to make at least $20 million this season in Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish and Jon Lester — who holds three of the four most lucrative contracts in franchise history. 

MORE: MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Seven other Cubs were set to make at least $10 million — Kris Bryant (the club’s union rep), Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks, José Quintana and Javy Báez. 

In March, the players agreed to take prorated salaries for this season based on the number of games played. According to Heyman, Tuesday’s proposal would entail minimum salary players not making 100 percent of their prorated salaries, but close to it. 

Heyman added the league’s top paid players would take about a 50 percent cut off their prorated salaries and therefore make 20-30 percent of their full salary over the proposed 82-game schedule.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers reported the breakdown of potential salary cuts. The figures still amount to players making several million dollars, though they also reflect how a 1/4 of the Cubs 40-man roster (those making at least $10 million) could take a big hit.

Though the players association characterized Tuesday’s proposal as “extremely disappointing,” it’s the first of what will be a long week of negotiations. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Cubs easily on your device.

MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Major League Baseball has a new approach to reducing the financial toll of playing without fans. And it's highly unpopular within the players association.

The economic proposal the owners presented the MLBPA on Tuesday included additional pay cuts, on top of the players’ already prorated salaries, according to multiple reports. Those cuts would affect all players but range depending on the player's pay, with the highest-paid players taking on the largest burden.

The players association characterized the proposal as “extremely disappointing,” and described the cuts as “massive.”

ESPN reported that the highest-paid players could receive less than 40 percent of their full-season salaries. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that it could be as low as 20-30 percent for the likes of Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport," MLB said in a statement. "We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”
Tuesday’s proposal abandoned the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, which the owners floated two weeks ago. Although the revenue split was not formally presented to the players, when reports of the owner’s plan became public, it received immediate pushback.

First of all, the union opposed a system associated with salary-capped leagues. The players association has been consistent for decades in its stance against a salary cap.

Secondly, the owners and players were at odds over the interpretation of their March agreement. In late March, players agreed to prorated salaries for the upcoming shortened season. The owners claimed that the language of the agreement allowed them to revisit the issue of player pay if the season had to go on without fans. The union disagreed.

MLB’s first financial proposal to the players association avoids a clash over revenue splitting but does nothing to address the latter concern.

Pay cuts are just one aspect of the upcoming financial negotiations.  Tension in financial negotiations has revealed just how far the players and owners are from agreement on health-and-safety protocols as well.

Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.