A double multiple streamtube model coupled with variable pitch methodology is used to analyze the performance characteristics of a small-scale straight-bladed Darrieus type vertical axis wind turbine (SB-VAWT). The numerical study revealed that a fixed pitch of -2.5 deg could greatly enhance the performance of the wind turbine. However, no improvement is observed in the starting torque capacity. Furthermore, the performance of upwind and downwind zones has been investigated, and it is found that the VAWT starting capacity is improved by increasing/decreasing the pitch angle upwind/downwind of the turbine. To optimize the performance, four cases of variable pitch angle schemes of sinusoidal nature were examined. The parameters of the sinusoidal functions were optimized using differential evolution (DE) algorithm with different cost functions. The results showed improvement in the power coefficient, yet with low starting capacity enhancement. Among the objective functions used in DE algorithm, the negative of the average power coefficient is found to lead to the best starting capacity with moderate peak power coefficient.