Cubs' Darvish looks to right ship vs. Pirates

Right-hander Yu Darvish will seek his first victory in nearly 11 months when the Chicago Cubs face the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.

Darvish has not earned a win since May 20, which proved to be his final performance in an inconsistent and injury-riddled 2018 campaign. The Cubs had had hoped a fresh start to this season would lead to early success, but the hard-throwing 32-year-old has returned to his struggles from a year ago.

Darvish is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA this season. He has allowed six runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings -- 2 2/3 innings against the Texas Rangers on March 30 and four innings against the Atlanta Braves last Thursday.

Perhaps most troubling, Darvish has issued 11 walks while striking out six.

"First week," Darvish told reporters after his most recent outing. "Nothing to worry about."

As a team, the Cubs have tried to model the same philosophy. They lost six of their first seven games before bouncing back to win two of their last three, including a 10-0 victory over the Pirates in Monday's series opener.

Pittsburgh has followed a similar path, losing three of its first four games and then winning four of the next five. The Pirates have posted three shutouts in nine games but looked shaky against the Cubs' bats.

Pirates right-hander Jordan Lyles (0-0) will make his second start of the season. He pitched five scoreless innings in his season debut against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out a pair.

Lyles, 28, is 2-2 with a 3.89 ERA in 12 career appearances (six starts) against the Cubs. He has walked eight and struck out 31 in 41 2/3 innings.

This is Lyles' first season in Pittsburgh. He started his career with the Houston Astros before moving on to the Colorado Rockies, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers and now the Pirates.

"He's got a good feel for the ball," catcher Jacob Stallings said in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "He can throw his fastball at the top of the zone, curveball off of it and mix his two-seam cutter and changeup in. He's been doing it a long time so he knows how to pitch. ...

"He has an even-keel demeanor, same guy every day. You can't be up and down."

In two career starts against the Pirates, Darvish is 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA. He last faced the club in 2016.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is confident Darvish will bounce back.

"The stuff from down there (watching in the dugout) is really good, it's just about where it's going," Maddon said in comments published by The Athletic.

"Great stuff, velocity was good, breaking ball was good, everything was good. We just have to be in the strike zone a little more consistently. Because that kind of stuff is definitely going to play, post-fifth inning, sixth- or seventh-inning stuff. He just has to get it in the zone. We'll get him there."

--Field Level Media
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