Cubs' Darvish, Reds' Gray look to get untracked

Yu Darvish hopes to get back to throwing the ball the way he did when he was a four-time American League All-Star from 2012-17.

The right-hander knows what he needs to fix to reach that level again, and he'll take another shot for the Chicago Cubs when they visit the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.

Darvish (2-3, 5.40 ERA) leads the majors with 33 walks in 36 2/3 innings. He has 11 walks and 11 strikeouts in eight innings this month, the main reason he is winless in his first two starts in May with a 6.75 ERA.

"It's frustrating for him, of course, and we've got to just keep working at it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said after Darvish's most recent outing, a 4-1 win against the Miami Marlins in which he was ineligible for the victory because he only went four innings for the second straight game.

"I don't have any solid answers. He's healthy, the ball's coming out of the hand really well. We've just got to be more consistent in the zone. It's not that complicated."

Darvish will try to follow up the performance of fellow right-hander Kyle Hendricks, who allowed one run in eight innings of a 3-1 win over the Reds in the series opener on Tuesday. Hendricks struck out seven and walked one.

Chicago catcher Taylor Davis said it appears Darvish is trying too hard to make a perfect pitch on the edge of the strike zone, instead of just trusting his velocity and movement within the zone to get batters out.

Davis said he started to show that attitude in his most recent outing.

"Obviously, he punches out a lot of guys," Davis said. "His stuff is that good, but understanding when he can get guys to roll over and do that, then I think that's kind of the next step for him."

Darvish has made three starts against Cincinnati in his career and is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA.

Cincinnati right-hander Sonny Gray (0-4, 4.15 ERA) is still looking for his first win with the Reds after eight starts. He spent his first six seasons in the American League with the Oakland A's and New York Yankees.

He has faced the Cubs just once before in his career, on Aug. 6, 2016, when he gave up two runs in five innings and took the loss in the 4-0 defeat.

Gray hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches in a game this season and hasn't gone more than six innings.

He returned to Oakland to face the A's in his last outing on May 8 and went 4 1/3 innings against his former team, allowing four runs (three earned) and six hits before the Reds lost 6-5 on a walk-off home run in the 13th inning.

Gray, an All Star with the A's in 2015, said he has felt really strong this season and is hitting his spot, but he's still looking for results.

"You kind of just look back and say, 'What's worked for me? What made me the pitcher that I am?' " Gray said. "What it always comes back to is just being aggressive, going after guys, and trying to put the hitters on the defensive. The more I can do that, the more success I'll have."

--Field Level Media
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