MILWAUKEE — He won’t have to worry this time about heat, humidity or debut jitters.
But he might want to think about a curveball, a changeup and better location.
Yu Darvish, the $126 million newcomer to the Cubs’ rotation, gets no soft landing Saturday as he tries to rebound from a rough Cubs debut. He faces a Brewers team expected to challenge the Cubs for the National League Central title this year.
“There will be a lot of opportunities for me to face them,” Darvish said through his interpreter. “So I hope to put in a very nasty image as a pitcher to [division rivals].”
Darvish, one of the top signees in baseball during the offseason, struggled with command during a rough outing in Miami last Saturday, walking two, hitting two with pitches and throwing barely half of his 102 pitches (59) for strikes.
One night after the bullpen was taxed in a 17-inning game, Darvish got through just 4„ innings, giving up five runs, and afterward talked about dehydration from Arizona as a possible factor.
He also threw only fastballs and sliders in that first start, which isn’t in the Cubs’ game plan for the man with a thousand pitches. Darvish acknowledges that needs to change.
“I’ve got a lot of pitches,” he said. “So I’d like to use those and combine them all for my next outing. That’s something I’m working on more than just the command of my fastball.”
To that end, Darvish had his most extensive session yet with Cubs pitching strategists Mike Borzello and Tommy Hottovy, going over video and concepts for more than an hour Thursday afternoon.
“I certainly can take advantage of that data,” he said.
And maybe this, too: The Brewers have seen Darvish only once in his career, and not at all during spring training this year. He gave up three runs in five innings of a 3-2 loss last August in Los Angeles while pitching for the Dodgers.
“I have to take advantage of it,” he said. “And I hope to.”