Yu Suffers Another Setback, 2018 Return Seems Unlikely

Injured Chicago Cubs SP Yu Darvish, who has missed significant time this season due to right triceps tendinitis and impingement in the right shoulder, exited his scheduled rehab start at Class A South Bend on Sunday after only one inning. This is bad news for an underperforming starting rotation that recently suffered the loss of Mike Montgomery, who had been filling in for Darvish, to the 10-day DL with left shoulder irritation.

Darvish appeared to be in pain after leaving the mound at the end of the first inning, and then winced in pain while warming up for the second inning, prompting his catcher to call the manager and trainer to the mound, who removed Darvish from the game.

Following the game, Darvish spoke to the press through an interpreter, saying that he “felt real good” during the first inning but “during warmups the next inning, I felt something in there. Last time [in June] I did feel the same thing [but] I continued to throw. This time I stopped.” The right-hander also mentioned he was planning to ask for an MRI upon his return to Chicago. When asked about his status for the rest of the season, he said, “I can’t really tell right now. It depends how I feel tomorrow. I really want to come back this season. I am going to work hard and do my best to try and come back.”

However, the clock is running out on the remainder of the regular season, and this latest setback makes it seem unlikely to me that Darvish will be able to return this season. It may be best for the Cubs to write him off for the rest of the year and focus on getting the Japanese star healthy for 2019. In the meantime, the Cubs have decisions to make regarding their current rotation. Struggling SP Tyler Chatwood, who had been moved to the bullpen after continuing to have difficulty finding the plate, started Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates after Montgomery was placed on the DL. Chatwood gave up 3 earned runs in just 2.0 innings pitched. Following the loss, Cubs manager Joe Maddon conceded that giving Chatwood another start is no longer an option.

If Montgomery is slow to return, the Cubs will either need to look to one of their AAA starters to fill in or make a waiver wire trade. SP Justin Verlander’s late August acquisition by the Astros in 2017 that carried the team to a World Series title is now a part of postseason lore. The Cubs may have already found their Verlander in Cole Hamels, who is 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA since joining the Northsiders, but they will need to find a pitcher who can help them hold the line, as Montgomery has done (4-4. 3.62 ERA). The team remains in first place in the NL Central, with a 3.5 game over the Milwaukee Brewers, and holds the NL’s best record of 71-52.

The Cubs close out their road trip with a two-game set in Detroit opening at 7:10 PM on Tuesday. Support the site by buying your tickets from SeatGeek!