After Chicago Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta decided to use the All-Star Game for rest, all eyes will be on him tonight against the Mets as he looks to return to his Cy Young form in his first start of the second half.
I know Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon isn’t making more out of this start then it’s just one start. And Jake Arrieta understands the importance for himself, but I doubt he believes what he does tonight will redirect the Cubs second half fortune. But it could allow the Cubs to stake claim once again to the best staff in the National League.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have undoubtedly the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw, but he was dealt a setback after feeling some back stiffness following a simulated game in his rehab. He’s by far the cream of the crop and elevates their staff to higher levels than it should be considered. Without him? Not so much.
The Cubs opponent tonight, the Mets, are in a difficult situation right now as well. Matt Harvey is done for the year after electing to have surgery to treat his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, while Stephen Matz and Noah Syndergaard both have bone chips they’re trying to pitch around.
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Jon Lester pitched a gem last night, and Jason Hammel picked up his first win in a while. And the No. 5 starter Kyle Hendricks continues to pitch like a No. 2 or 3 as he’s fourth in the NL with a 2.41 ERA. A win tonight against the Mets for Arrieta–and in dominating fashion–would mean more than anyone in the clubhouse is going to let on. But make no mistake, it’s more than just “another start”.
After being owned by the Mets going back to the NLCS last season (0-8 prior to last night’s win), the Cubs are trying to make a statement before the Mets leave town. The buzzsaw of starting pitching that the Cubs ran into last October isn’t the same anymore, while their staff is on an upswing.
It’s a big game for Arrieta’s confidence, for the Cubs confidence against the Mets, as well as a warning to the Mets that should they meet again in October it might be a different story than last season.