HAWL IN: We’re still getting to know Yu

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 11: Yu Darvish #11 of the Chicago Cubs walks off the field after a game between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field on May 11, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 11-2. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – It’s quite a strong word, and it doesn’t really fit with this situation.

“I think he thinks that Chicago hates him for going on the DL a couple of times,” is what Cubs catcher Chris Gimenez told Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun Times in an article posted on Thursday, referring to Darvish’s perceived feeling from the fans.

Hate.

It’s one used to describe things in this world that are much more serious than a pitcher and their fan base. The fact that the word even creeps into the conversation seems a bit weird.

While there are some who might take it to that extreme, that’s not really the case. Cubs fans don’t really hate Yu Darvish, it’s more of a frustration at the most. It’s what comes from a pair of appearances on the disabled list in May and a healthy amount of inconsistency.

But the real answer is probably a little simpler  – and much more in the middle: We’re still getting to know “Yu.”

Two months into a six-year, $126 million contract is still a bit quick to judge. Darvish is still getting used to a completely new city, a new manager in Joe Maddon, pitching coach in Jim Hickey, and organization. It’s only human to have a little bit of adjustment time, and yes, some have handled it a little better than others.

It’s just taking Darvish a little longer, for whatever reason.

On the other side, the Cubs did their homework before the season to learn about the pitcher, but by no means did that mean the studies were over. It’s on the aforementioned staff to get to know their pitcher a little better to get the best out of him.

Maybe that’s why Darvish has dealt with a first eight starts that have ridden the proverbial roller coaster. We’ve seen moments that make us think that the long-term deal was a mistake (See March 31st, April 13th, April 21st, and May 2nd), which is concerning considering that he’s never had an era over 3.03 in the first month of the season in his career.

Here are his splits from his previous seasons in the first month (remember he lost April in 2015 and 2016 due to Tommy John surgery).

2017 – 3-2, 3.03 ERA

2014 – 1-1, 2.59 ERA

2013 – 5-1, 2.33 ERA

2012 – 4-0, 2.19 ERA

But his final two starts before going on the disabled list with right triceps inflammation were a little more encouraging (10 total innings, two earned runs, 12 strikeouts to five walks), perhaps showing the potential that gave the Cubs the confidence to offer the long-term deal.

Then again, we don’t know.

Feelings that Cubs fans have at this moment would be some frustration but don’t rise to the level of hate. The risen expectations of a fan base following the World Series championship means there is less patience with high-profile players to perform, hence the anxiety with back-to-back inconsistent starts with the team.

There is too much to learn on both sides, still so much time for things to play out. Hate doesn’t have a place when it comes to Cubs fans and Yu Darvish and probably never will.