Maddon denies claim that personal catcher will fix Darvish's struggles
Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Can Chris Gimenez be the solution to Yu Darvish's problems this season? Not according to Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

"We have ideas," Maddon told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic prior to Friday's game against the St. Louis Cardinals. "Honestly, I think Willson Contreras is one of the best catchers (around). Two games ago, you would have thought it was a nice combo. And then Yu had a tough time, and now all of a sudden, it's the catcher’s fault.

"It has nothing to do with the catcher. Would you all write that down? It has nothing to do with the catcher."

Darvish and Gimenez are familiar with one another from their days with the Texas Rangers. The veteran backstop has appeared in 12 career games as Darvish's catcher, helping the right-hander perform to a combined 3.29 ERA with 98 strikeouts, while limiting hitters to .250/.308/.411. The Cubs signed Gimenez to a minor-league contract in January, a few weeks before Darvish joined the team on a six-year, $126-million deal.

With Contreras behind the plate, Darvish has pitched to a 6.00 ERA, surrendering six home runs, with hitters slashing .258/.353/.475, albeit in only six games this season. The young catcher does rank near the bottom of the league among those qualified at the position with minus-0.020 CSAA (Called Strikes Above Average) and minus-4.8 framing runs, according to Baseball Prospectus. Gimenez, meanwhile, ranked 23rd among catchers with 0.009 CSAA and 20th with 4.9 framing runs added with the Minnesota Twins in 2017.

"I really don’t believe that has anything to do with anything. If it gets to that point, I promise you, I will concede to that," Maddon added. "But I've not even thought about that, because we really believe what we're on to is much more pertinent, so let's just go this route."

Darvish has struggled early on with his new team, specifically with his control, pitching to 4.8 BB/9, 1.8 HR/9, and a 1.56 WHIP so far this season.

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Maddon denies claim that personal catcher will fix Darvish's struggles
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