Joe Maddon: Narrative that Yu Darvish doesn't compete is absolutely false

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Joe Maddon pushed back Thursday on the notion that high-priced starter Yu Darvish doesn't "compete" enough as the righty prepares for his fifth start as a Cub on Friday.

Darvish is 0-2 with a 6.86 ERA this season.

"This concept that he doesn't compete is absolutely fabricated and false," Maddon said before Thursday's game against the Milwaukee Brewers. "This guy is one of the best pitchers in the world, not in the United States, but in the world. How could you arrive at that point if you don't compete? But there are times even good players don't process the moment well enough and things get away from them. That's where I think he's at."

Darvish has had high-profile meltdowns in his past two starts; one was derailed by a balk, and another by a walk to the pitcher. He hasn't gotten out of the fifth inning in three of four outings this year.

"Really trying to stay focused on this pitch," Maddon said. "Respect this pitch only. Don't worry about the previous or the next one. Let's respect this pitch. I know he understands that."

It's true. Darvish hasn't shied away from the criticism as he attempts to find answers. He and Maddon had a conversation this week between starts.

"I think it's approach," Maddon said. "Just like hitting goes back to approach. Same with the pitching. Trying to get him to slow down [tough] moments."

The slow start has drawn the ire of Cubs fans after the team didn't re-sign popular righty Jake Arrieta while doling out $126 million for Darvish. He came with a spotty reputation in regard to the bigger moments in a season.

"The dialogue has gotten a little bit out of control," Maddon said. "This guy is really, really good. When you sit on the side and watch this, it's fabulous."