Yu Darvish arrived in the states with plenty of fanfare and high expectations.
He’s certainly had his moments, making the All-Star team in his first major league season while also piling up 154 strikeouts over 134 innings. Lately, though, those bright spots have been few and far between.
Darvish was pounded for six runs on a career-high 11 hits in Monday’s loss to the Red Sox. It’s the fourth time in the last five starts that he’s allowed at least six runs, as he’s put up an ugly 7.76 ERA so far in the second half. His ERA is now up to 4.57, which is the highest it’s been since his second start of the season, and his WHIP is sitting at an unsightly 1.46.
So what’s caused Darvish to seemingly hit a wall?
I mentioned back on June 20 that I was worried about Darvish’s escalating workload. He threw a career-high 122 pitches that night just a week after admitting to being fatigued, which didn’t seem like a wise move on manager Ron Washington’s part. Darvish set a new career high with 123 pitches Monday, and he’s now tied with Jake Peavy for the third-highest pitches-per-start average in the league at 109.71.
Keep in mind that Darvish is working with one fewer day of rest in the states than he did in Japan, so it’s certainly possible that he’s wearing down. It’s not showing up in his velocity, which has been fine. And, despite recent struggles, Darvish is still piling up the strikeouts. But, fatigue can manifest itself in different ways, and perhaps it’s what’s caused Yu not to be as sharp of late.
Darvish will get the Tigers at home and the Blue Jays in Toronto the next two times out, so things might get worse before they get better.
Garza Shut Down
Matt Garza was pumped and ready to go for Tuesday’s start in San Diego following a successful bullpen session this past Saturday. But, the right-hander tried to play catch the next day, and he had to shut things down after feeling some stiffness in his pitching elbow.
A subsequent exam revealed a stress reaction in the back of Garza’s right elbow, which will send him to the disabled and out of commission for an indefinite period of time.
‘‘He felt really good on Saturday,’’ Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said in the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘I think that’s probably the surprise of it.’’
Known for being high strung and ultra-competitive, Garza is expected to push hard to return at some point later this season. The reality, of course, is that the Cubbies are well out of contention, and they won’t let their best pitcher (who is under team control next season) come back unless they’re 100 percent sure he can’t do further harm to himself. Garza’s fantasy owners would be wise not to expect him back.
As for what the Cubs will do to fill his rotation spot, well, they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point. Brooks Raley, who has been considered little more than a warm body in the minors, will be summoned to start in Garza’s place Tuesday. He’ll join a rotation that also includes the likes of Chris Volstad and Justin Germano.
National League Quick Hits: Joey Votto (knee) is running at close to full speed and has ramped up other activities. The Reds haven’t provided an updated timetable on his return, but it shouldn’t be long ... The Brewers called up Jean Segura Monday after Cesar Izturis was claimed off waivers by the Nationals. Segura struggled in his debut, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He’s probably not ready to hit at the major league level, but his speed makes him worthy of attention in mixed leagues ... Shaun Marcum (elbow) will begin a rehab assignment with Low-A Wisconsin Thursday. He seems likely to require at least three minor league outings before rejoining the Brewers’ rotation ... Todd Helton will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. The 39-year-old is under contract next year but could be looking at a reduced role ... The Giants claimed left-hander Jose Mijares off waivers from the Royals. His arrival will allow the team to use Jeremy Affeldt later in games ... Tony Gwynn Jr. was designated for assignment by the Dodgers Monday. He’s under contract for next year, so the Dodgers might have to end up eating some money.
American League Quick Hits: Evan Longoria (hamstring) will be activated from the disabled list prior to Tuesday’s game. Longo, who has been out since April, admitted that he still has some soreness, but the Rays are ready to let him give it a shot ... Justin Verlander was brilliant Monday, matching a career high with 14 strikeouts while allowing two unearned runs over eight innings in a win over the Yankees. He boasts a 2.51 ERA and 0.98 WHIP and might be the favorite to win another AL Cy Young award ... Chris Sale returned from a long layoff in style Monday, striking out seven while allowing two runs over eight frames in a win over the Royals. It appears that the “dead arm” phase is behind him ... David Ortiz received an injection Monday to reduce the inflammation in his ailing right Achilles. He could be back soon if the shot works, but it’s not a given ... Yoenis Cespedes didn’t start Monday’s game, marking the second time in the last three days he’s sat out with an ailing right wrist. The disabled list doesn’t seem to be a consideration at this point, but we’ll have to see how he recovers over the next few days ... Jim Thome will be shut down from all baseball activities for 30 days following an epidural injection for a herniated disk in his neck ... Roberto Hernandez will make what’s expected to be his final minor league start Friday before rejoining the Indians’ rotation.