Major League Baseball's sign-stealing saga may have added a new layer on Friday.
While the league's focus remains on the Houston Astros following allegations of sign stealing during the 2017 season, the Milwaukee Brewers’ methods came into question after comments by Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish led to speculation that Milwaukee’s bullpen was relaying signs to Christian Yelich during a game in 2019.
Yu Darvish fuels speculation
In a Los Angeles Times story centered around Darvish’s feelings on the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing allegations, the Cubs right-hander referenced a concerning incident from this season.
Darvish recalled a game this season in which he stepped off the mound multiple times because he noticed something unusual. Batters typically have their eyes set on the pitcher. In this particular game, he observed they were looking into left-center field.
Cubs blog Bleacher Nation traces the incident back to Darvish’s start at Miller Park in Milwaukee on Sept. 7. The images focus on MVP runner up Christian Yelich seemingly focusing on left-center field, which is where the Brewers bullpen is located.
Given the rumors about Brewers, I took a look at Yu's start in Milwaukee this year, where Brewers bullpen is - you guessed it - in left center. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin': in 1st AB, Yelich's eyes dart to his left as the sign goes down, & Darvish immediately steps off. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/62NHvXRpV5— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) November 15, 2019
While Darvish is adamant that he’s not outright accusing the Brewers of stealing signs, he seemingly confirms this is the incident in question.
I'm not sure what is he trying to do.— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) November 15, 2019
But to be clear his eyes move first.
That's why I step off.
Those speculating believe that if Yelich is looking for a signal, the Brewers would have to have a video camera set up similar to what the Astros have been accused of.
Christian Yelich fires back
It’s entirely possible Yelich is sneaking a peek at the Cubs defensive setup. That would not be unusual.
Rather than offer an explanation on the matter, Yelich instead took aim at Darvish for fueling the rumors.
Be better than this. Nobody needs help facing you https://t.co/DlUDwjJn4X— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) November 15, 2019
If it seems like everyone is a little jumpy these days ... well.
For what it’s worth, Darvish allowed only one earned run while striking out 15 batters and walking one in 10 innings against Milwaukee this season. In the start in question, he pitched five scoreless frames.
Regardless of what may or may not have been happening, Darvish had Milwaukee’s number. Though for his career, he has not fared well against Yelich. The Brewers slugger has hit .364/.500/.909 with two homers in their 14 matchups.
Darvish still accepts blame for 2017 World Series
In regards to the Astros’ sign-stealing allegations, which could have greatly impacted Darvish’s two poor outings for the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2017 World Series, Darvish is admittedly conflicted.
Ultimately, he takes responsibility for his performance.
“I feel that if I absolve myself and say it was the Astros’ fault I was bad in Game 7, in the World Series, I can’t develop as a person,” Darvish said in a video posted to YouTube. “In life, I think huge failures are extremely important. I’ve had a few up to this point. The World Series was one of them. I think it will remain a point of reference for me. I’ve already learned a lot from it. So regarding that, I can’t view myself charitably. I think I have to continue to accept the results.”
Darvish was charged with four runs and lasted only 1 2/3 innings in Game 3. In the decisive Game 7, he gave up five runs in 1 2/3 innings. The Dodgers lost both games, allowing the Astros to capture their first-ever championship.
There was talk leading up to, during and after the World Series that Darvish was tipping pitches. It’s something he seems comfortable owning as his own flaw and is now using as motivation.
In regards to the Brewers situation, whether Darvish meant to or not, it’s certain the already tense Cubs-Brewers rivalry will be turned up another notch in 2020.
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