I had theorized in the wake of Yu Darvish’s 50-pitch simulated game Tuesday that he could make two rehab starts in South Bend, each on 4-5 days’ rest. But according to Cubs pitching coach, Jim Hickey, who joined 670 The Score’s Mully & Haugh for his weekly phoner, the tentative plan is for Darvish to get three starts.
“In a perfect world — I believe today’s the 15th — so if he threw his simulated game on the 14th, he’d be eligible to pitch on the 19th — this is in a perfect world now — the 24th and the 29th. And there you go,” Hickey said.
“He’d be ready at the beginning of September if all went well.”
The South Bend Cubs are the only one of the Cubs’ three closest affiliates with home games on all three of those dates, so it’s almost guaranteed that all of Darvish’s appearances would come there. It’s a little interesting that they’d want him to get three rehab starts, though part of that is surely to get him ramped up to the regular routine of being part of a five-man rotation.
It would also line Darvish up with Mike Montgomery’s spot in the rotation, which was skipped this week but will resume on the 18th in Pittsburgh. That puts the lefty in line to start on the 24th against the Reds and 29th against the Mets, both at Wrigley. Darvish would then be on the bump to open the series in Milwaukee on September 3, which makes a lot of sense.
While facing the Brewers on the road seems like a tough task on the surface, Darvish has posted his two best game scores of the season (69 on April 27, 68 on April 7) against them. He also appears to be attacking this recent round of rehab with a bit more fire than he had previously. Following Alex Rodriguez’s comments on Sunday Night baseball and the Cubs’ subsequent rallying around him, Darvish seems more driven.
That was evident in the way he threw Tuesday, which Hickey indicated was a very positive sign of things to come.
“I think he was up to 93 miles per hour in terms of the fastball velocity, which was really good because it’s that’s not on adrenaline in a 9:45 a.m. type of situation,” Hickey explained. So that’s a good sign. He also used all the breaking balls.”
Everything’s still in flux as the Cubs wait to see how Darvish responds following each new step in the process, but continued strong results are making hope more of a reality. Provided he’s feeling good Wednesday and makes his Thursday bullpen session, he’ll be on the mound in live action this weekend.