Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta takes the ball Sunday in Cincinnati, pitching in a ballpark where he tossed a no-hitter last season.
Hoping to gain some momentum as the weekend started, the Chicago Cubs’ focus has shifted: simply avoid getting swept. After getting taken to task by a rookie starting pitcher making his big league debut Saturday, Joe Maddon‘s club is hoping for a spark in the finale.
Chicago (40-41) is hoping for Jake Arrieta to figure things out. Last season, in a 16-0 win, the right-hander no-hit these Reds. Not only that, but he did so in this very ballpark. That being said, 2017 has been a horrendous season for the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner.
According to Baseball Reference, he is a -0.3 WAR pitcher to-date this year. Not hard to understand given he’s entering Sunday with a 4.67 ERA and 1.365 WHIP. In his career, he owns a 6-2 record against Cincinnati with a 3.76 earned run average in eight starts. Hopefully, that trend wins out over his recent performance.
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Meanwhile, Cincinnati (35-45) counters with Tim Adleman. The right-hander allowed three or fewer runs in six of his lats seven outings. If you put the two pitchers side-by-side this year, you’d probably be more confident in Adleman than Arrieta.
Zobrist back in the lineup, Contreras catching
On Sunday, Maddon is batting the pitcher ninth again. He has the top three trio as Jon Jay, who homered for the first time as a Cub Saturday, followed by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Ben Zobrist, who pinch-hit in his return from the DL, gets the nod at clean-up and plays right field.
Willson Contreras will catch Arrieta – a contrast from the past. Miguel Montero served as Arrieta’s primary receiver, but with Montero gone, the Cubs opt for this duo. This is their 16th time working together. In the previous 15 appearances, Arrieta pitched to a 4.08 ERA and .227 BAA. With Montero, the right-hander owns a 2.84 earned run average and .207 BAA.
Chicago travels back home on July 3 before opening a two-game stint against the Tampa Bay Rays at Wrigley on the Fourth.