Cubs righty Yu Darvish has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his right elbow and will be out for the remainder of the season, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters (Twitter links via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune and Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago). The injury comes with a minimum six-week recovery timetable that won’t allow Darvish enough time to make it back in 2018.
An MRI taken today revealed the injury in addition to some lingering triceps inflammation, Gonzales adds (Twitter links). If there’s any silver lining for Darvish, it’s that the MRI determined his ligament to be in stable condition.
The hopes of Darvish returning in 2018 already looked to be dwindling, and today’s announcement from the team formally puts an end to his first season in Chicago — one that will be marked as abject disappointment for all parties involved. Darvish, signed to a six-year deal worth a total of $126MM in the offseason, managed to pitch just 40 innings in his debut season with the organization. In that time, he struggled to a 4.95 ERA with a characteristically impressive 11.0 K/9 mark but far too many walks (4.7 BB/9) and homers allowed (1.6 HR/9).
The Cubs invested heavily in hopeful rotation upgrades this past offseason, namely signing Darvish and fellow righty Tyler Chatwood for a combined $164MM in guaranteed money. Neither move has paid any semblance of dividends, though, with Darvish unable to remain healthy and Chatwood unable to throw strikes (93 walks in 101 1/3 innings). The disastrous season for that pair of high-priced rotation pieces prompted Epstein and the rest of the Cubs’ front office to pivot prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, striking a deal to acquire Cole Hamels from the Rangers which, to this point, has produced brilliant results.
It already seemed likely that the Cubs would be on the lookout for additional rotation help between now and the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility, as a productive return from Darvish appeared to be a long shot. With Darvish officially out for the season and Mike Montgomery on the disabled list, though, the likelihood is only enhanced. Chatwood is still being utilized as a starter in spite of his struggles, joining Hamels, Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana in the team’s rotation. But both Lester and Quintana have hit a rough patch as of late, and the Cubs are in a tight division race, leading the Brewers by three games and the Cardinals by just a half-game more.