Padres: Yu Darvish was the only choice for Opening Day

(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

There was no other choice. Not when it came to the San Diego Padres and the decision to name Yu Darvish the Opening Day starter.

San Diego acquired Darvish from the Chicago Cubs this offseason, along with his personal catcher Victor Caratini, looking for a proven veteran to anchor its pitching staff. All spring, the big right-hander lived up to the hype, dominating in his first two starts before struggling against one of his former clubs, the Texas Rangers, on March 25.

"“Needless to say how honored I am to be given the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day,” Darvish told through an interpreter. “I really didn’t think this would happen, just because of the types of pitchers that we have on this ballclub. But very honored.”"

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Padres manager Jayce Tingler could have just as easily gone with another newcomer to the Padres rotation, Blake Snell. The longtime Tampa Bay left-hander has been perfect this spring, not allowing a single run over 9 1/3 innings of work in Cactus League action.

Instead, he opted to go with Darvish – and Snell will follow his rotation mate in the team’s second game of the 2021 season.

Padres: Yu Darvish wanted this chance

As most of you know, I covered Darvish for the last three years in Chicago and, after seeing him passed over for the Opening Day nod in 2020, there’s no doubt he’s up to the task – and hungry to prove himself to his new team.

"“Just looking back at my whole career,” Darvish said, “I think I’m at my best right now.”"

After seeing what he did last year with the Cubs, I wouldn’t doubt it. Since he signed with Chicago, you could see him hit rock bottom and have to learn how to have confidence in who he was as a pitcher. Once he got back on track and locked in, there was no stopping him. He ran off a 2.01 ERA last season in a dozen starts, working to an MLB-best 2.23 FIP.

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For me, it was always going to be Darvish on Opening Day. Now that it’s official, we can set our eyes on the rapidly approaching 2021 season with hopes that Darvish gets things started on the right foot next Thursday at Petco Park.