12:35 AM ET
As long as the results look like they did Wednesday — Darvish struck out 11 without issuing a walk against the Cincinnati Reds — he can pretty much do whatever he wants.
“I’m a slow guy,” Darvish said after the Cubs’ 6-5, 10-inning loss. “I’m always slow, especially my first three-to-four years. I told [pitching coach] Tommy [Hottovoy] yesterday, I want to go slower. That’s why I was taking my time. That makes me more comfortable.”
It would not be an exaggeration to say Darvish looked as good as he has in years, even if he lasted only 5 1/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Darvish hasn’t had 11 strikeouts without issuing a free pass since August 2013. But there’s more.
His first strike percentage was 67, his highest this season and second-highest as a Cub. In his career, the opposition has a slash line of .177/.219/.277 when Darvish throws strike one.
He earned 26 called strikes, the most in a