Yu Darvish, born on August 16, 1986, is a professional baseball player from Habikino, Osaka prefecture, currently playing for the MLB team Chicago Cubs. He was born to an Iranian father and Japanese mother.
While he was attending Tohoku High School, he played in the Koshien 4 times (counting both the spring and summer tournaments). During the second summer tournament, he played as the team’s ace and the team finished second. In the spring tournament during his 3rd year, he threw a no-hitter and drew attention as a towering pitcher next to Daisuke Matsuzaka. He was drafted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters during the 1st round draft in 2004, without competition, and signed a contract.
During his first year in spring training camp, he was set to start in their minor league team, because his injury was affecting his performance. When he was promoted back to their major league team in June, he made his pro debut against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, where he won after giving up 2 points in the 8th inning. This cemented his position in the starting rotation. By the end of the season, Darvish had appeared in 14 matches with a record of 5 wins and 5 losses.
The next year, in 2006, he started in the major league team from the opening match and achieved 10 consecutive victories. With a 12-5 score and 2.89 ERA, Darvish was the deciding factor that helped the Nippon-Ham Fighters win the pennant race in the Pacific League that year. In the Japan series against the Chunichi Dragons, Darvish was the starting pitcher in the decisive 5th match and he lead his team to a brilliant victory, which was the Fighters 2nd Japan Series championship title in over 44 years. The right thrower earned the MVP title for his performance in the Japan Series.
Darvish, who had claimed his position as the team’s ace, was entrusted with the starting pitcher role in the 2007 opening match, where he seized his first win and then went on to mark down 15 wins and 5 losses, along with a 1.82 ERA that season. He was selected for the Eiji Sawamura Award and for the Pacific League MVP. On top of that, he won the title for most strike outs, the Golden Glove Award and the Best Nine Award. His efforts were a tremendous help in securing the Pacific League championship victory again.
When his contract was renewed in the off-season, his annual salary got a huge boost, and he became the youngest Japanese player in history to receive a 200 million yen contract.
After that, Darvish continued to produce stable results, raking in 2 digit wins for 6 years in a row, and adding up to 1000 strike outs. He was the first pitcher in history to achieve an ERA under 2.0 for 5 consecutive years, and he continued to grow as the bets pitcher in NPB.
Moreover, Darvish appeared in the Japanese national for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and for the 2nd WBC in 2009. In the WBC finals against South Korea, he gave the national team their second consecutive victory as the closer.
In the 2011 off-season, he announced his plans to play in MLB, and using the posting system, he landed a 6 year contract with the Texas Rangers. On April 9, 2012, he had his first match as the starting pitcher against the Seattle Mariners. After marking down the win, he went on to claim 16 wins during his rookie year, which was the highest number of wins for a Japanese player to get on his first year.
During his 2nd and 3rd year, he continued to score 2 figure wins, just like he did during his NPB days. However, during the 2015 spring training, they discovered an injury in his right elbow’s medial collateral ligament and he announced he would be undergoing Tommy John surgery. As such, he had to skip the 2015 season.
Although he had recovered from the injury the following year, he would have his good and bad days, as the effects of surgery would heavily effect his results. On July 31, 2017, Rangers announced that Darvish would be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After joining the Dodgers, Darvish participated in 9 games and went 4-3, with a 3.44 ERA, and helped the team win the National League West. Sadly, in 3rd and 7th World Series matches against the Houston Astros, his pitching lost both games and eliminated his team from the World Series.
In the off-season, he became a free agent then the big league’s official site announced that he had agreed to sign a 6 year contract with the Chicago Cubs on February 10, 2018.