The Rundown: ‘Big Data’ Darvish Ready to Lead Cubs Back to Postseason, Rizzo Likes Camp Vibe, Chatwood Has Strong Outing

When you look at the money the Yankees paid Gerrit Cole this winter, having Yu Darvish at $21 million AAV seems like a steal. Even better, Darvish could have exercised his opt-out after last season and it’s entirely possible he would have earned a larger contract on the open market. Instead, he chose to remain with Chicago.

Now he may be primed for a pretty big season and is a dark horse Cy Young contender.

The veteran righty entered camp as the Cubs’ ace based on a huge second half in which he was as dominant as any pitcher in baseball. He certainly pitched the way Theo Epstein envisioned when inking Darvish to a six-year $126 million contract ahead of the 2018 season.

He looks to be in mid-season form already, and I’m sure Brewers hitters would agree after he was absolutely filthy in his first start of the spring last week.

David Ross hinted Wednesday that he knew who his Opening Day starter would be, but he is reluctant to officially name that pitcher just yet. Darvish is a good bet to get the nod, which would likely slate Jon Lester to pitch the team’s home opener against the Pirates on March 30. That would set the Cubs up nicely for the season-opening three-game set against the Brewers in Milwaukee, with Kyle Hendricks and José Quintana likely following Darvish.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

This is actually pretty cool.

MLB Spring Training Notes

Things got a little testy between the Dodgers and Giants yesterday after Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner was hit by a pitch. Turner had homered in his previous at-bat.

Reds starter Trevor Bauer and commissioner Rob Manfred apparently had a productive meeting yesterday. Bauer has been quite outspoken on a number of issues related to Manfred’s tenure as the czar of baseball.

New Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo could be one of baseball’s better hitters this season per Verdugo posted a 3.3 WAR with the Dodgers last season in just 397 plate appearances.

According to an MLB source, league officials are advising players to limit human-to-human contact, per guidance from the Center for Disease Control. That means declining autograph requests until further notice.

White Sox starter Dylan Cease pitched four innings yesterday in his best outing of the spring.

Extra Innings

Happy Birthday, big guy!

They Said It

  • “I liked data before. But after I came here, I learned a lot on Ivy [Chicago’s scouting database]. I didn’t know how to use the data with Dodgers and Rangers. I think they have it, but not like here. [The coaches here] taught me how to use it and ‘This data means this and that data means that.’ Then I started to use it on my own and I can use Ivy better than anybody in the clubhouse.” – Yu Darvish
  • “When you’re done, these guys won’t talk about your numbers. They’ll talk about what kind of teammate you were and how you affected them. Think about the weight you carry when you walk into this locker room, how much your voice means and matters.” – David Ross
  • “We have the talent to get back to the World Series and be able to live up to those expectations. … The goal is to win a World Series. That’s what Chicago wants, that’s what we want, and that’s how we go about our work every day.” – Ross

Thursday Walk Up Song

Fantasy by Aldo Nova

  • What went wrong? Looking back at this video, one would think we existed on another planet in 1982. This darkly-lit film is a bad take on rock star problems and even features a helicopter landing and the use of laser beams as weapons. Then there’s lead singer Aldo emerging from the chopper in a leopard print suit. Hey, life is just a fantasy.
  • How does it play today? Spinal Tap would be embarrassed if they had made this video, does that say enough? That’s a first rate mullet on Aldo though, and the smoke machine is a cheap enough effect that it’s almost a parody video, which was probably not the directors intent. I heard this song was huge in Japan, however.
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