The Chicago Cubs have put starting pitcher Yu Darvish on the 10-day disabled list due to illness, adding to the early season struggles for the team’s biggest offseason acquisition.

Yu Darvish DL
Yu Darvish, seen here pitching against the Colorado Rockies last month, contracted an illness that has since landed him on the 10-day DL. (Image: David Zalubowski/AP)

Darvish was placed on the DL because of “parainfluenza virus,” a common virus that can cause respiratory infections (but is not related to the flu). The stint is retroactive to Friday, meaning he can come off the DL on May 14, potentially allowing Darvish to pitch a makeup game against the Atlanta Braves at home.

Darvish was seen at Wrigley Field just hours before the game playing catch with teammates. However, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said that the team has been aware of the illness for two days, but was hoping Darvish would still be able to make his scheduled start.

“It was one of those things you didn’t know if he’d start feeling better or not,” Maddon told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve been trying to prepare for it. I talked to him before the game. It wasn’t good.”

Darvish Not Living Up to Contract

The Cubs signed Darvish to a six-year, $126 million contract in February in the hopes of adding another front line starter to their rotation. Instead, the 31-year-old has been the weak link in the Chicago rotation, starting 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in his first six starts with the team.

That’s a major disappointment for the Cubs, who believed they were getting one of the league’s best and most consistent pitchers. Since coming over from Japan in 2012, Darvish has made four All-Star teams and compiled a 56-45 record with a 3.51 ERA.

Most of that time came with the Texas Rangers, though last year he was traded to the Dodgers and took part in their World Series run. Darvish was effective down the stretch for Los Angeles and posted two dominant playoff starts. However, he was rocked twice in the World Series by the Houston Astros, pitching just 3.1 innings total and giving up eight earned runs.

Cubs Taking Advantage of DL Rules?

Maddon mentioned the Dodgers when it came to questions about how Darvish went from being expected to start Monday to being on the DL with what amounts to a cold in a matter of a few hours.

“The 10-day DL permits a lot of stuff,” Maddon told the Tribune after Monday night’s 14-2 victory over the Marlins. “Ask the Dodgers.”

That comment referred to Los Angeles’ perceived usage of the short-term DL to stash players with questionable injuries, so that they could bring in other players to fill roster needs.

The Cubs may not be struggling to the same extent as the Dodgers, but they’ve fallen well short of their early season goals. At 17-15, they are 2.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central, a questionable start for a team that was expected to be among the National League’s best.

While the Cubs are still considered a World Series contender, they’ve drifted a bit from the favorites. The Cubs are now listed at 14/1 to win a championship this year, behind the favored Astros (6/1), Yankees (13/2), and Red Sox (8/1). In the National League, both the surprising Arizona Diamondbacks (10/1) and the Washington Nationals (12/1) are now favored over Chicago as well.

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