Yu Darvish undergoes elbow surgery to conclude injury-plagued 2018

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Yu Darvish’s injury-plagued first season with the Chicago Cubs officially ended in August. Now the 32-year-old right-hander is completely focused on making an impact in 2019 after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement on his right elbow.

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In much simpler terms, Darvish had his elbow cleaned up after being diagnosed with a stress reaction last month. The surgery was recommended by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, whom Darvish sought for a second opinion. Darvish is expected to be ready for spring training.

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A season lost to injury

The Cubs were counting on Darvish to be a key part of their rotation after signing him to a six-year, $126 million contract during the offseason. Instead, they got only eight uneven starts from the veteran hurler.

Darvish last pitched for Chicago on May 20. He was initially diagnosed with tendinitis in his right triceps. His bid to return was derailed in late August when he left a rehab start with elbow soreness. That led to the stress reaction diagnosis.

According to Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the stress reaction has likely been the root of Darvish’s issues all season long. 

“We do believe that the stress reaction is what has been bugging him all the way back to the end of May. Looking back, it’s consistent with the symptoms and the pain he’s been experiencing as he ramps up and tries to come back on two occasions now.”

Darvish finished his season 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA over 40 innings.

Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish had right elbow surgery but is expected back for spring training. (AP)
Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish had right elbow surgery but is expected back for spring training. (AP)

Injury history

Darvish missed the end of 2014, the entire 2015 season, and a part of 2016 because of elbow discomfort and eventually Tommy John surgery.

He made 31 starts in 2017, which seemed to be a promising sign. However, he wasn’t quite the same in the postseason, especially during two dreadful World Series starts.

How the Cubs have replaced Yu Darvish

The Cubs have actually had to replace two starters. Tyler Chatwood, the team’s other offseason rotation signing, completely bombed before being demoted to the bullpen.

Mike Montgomery, a reliable left-hander who can start in a pinch or pitch out of the bullpen, has done a solid job filling one of those rotation spot. In August, the Cubs acquired Cole Hamels, Darvish’s former Rangers teammate, to fill the other. Hamels has possibly been the NL’s best starter during that time frame, posting a 1.42 ERA over eight starts.

The two veteran lefties have helped Chicago avoid serious rotation issues this season. But given the Cubs investment in Darvish, they’ll definitely need him full strength and contributing in 2019.

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