Chicago Cubs: With Arrieta out, where do the Cubs turn?
By Erik Mauro
The playoffs start next week, as the Cubs face the Nationals in the NLDS. Jake Arrieta will miss the first two games to rest his hamstring. Can the Cubs survive him being out?
The Chicago Cubs haven’t even announced a Game 1 starter, but all signs point to it being Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks has been the most consistent pitcher in the second half for the Cubs. Ideally, in a perfect world, the Cubs could go Hendricks, Jake Arrieta, then Jon Lester or Jose Quintana. Now, Lester or Quintana will have to start Games 2 and 3, and maybe Arrieta could be ready for Game 4. Who knows, maybe Arrieta is ready for Game 3. Jake came up big in the playoffs last year, and the Cubs could use him in October again this year.
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What about John?
Now, do the Cubs put John Lackey on the roster, and perhaps, even have him make a start if Arrieta can’t go? Have Hendricks come back on short rest for Game 4? The ideal choice here would be to have Lackey make the start. Don’t worry, though, in the second half Lackey has pitched to a 3.68 ERA, with just a .232 opponent batting average, with only a .705 OPS.
He has kept the ball in the ballpark as well, giving up just 12 home runs in 13 starts in the second half. Lackey has been a bulldog in the second half and has made a reputation for coming up big when his team needs him to.
On the season, Arrieta has pitched to a 3.53 ERA. In 168 1/3 innings, he has given up 150 hits, striking out 163, and walking 55, giving up a .235 opponent batting average, with just a .716 opponent OPS. Oh, ya know, typical Jake Arrieta Cubs’ numbers. The scary thing is that’s one of his worst years with the Cubs. Jake has been everything the Cubs have asked, and more, since the trade in 2013.
Next: How much should regulars rest?
This is the good thing; the Cubs have the depth to get by. It will take some shuffling, but that’s the Joe Maddon Special. They have options to get by without Arrieta, but boy, it would sure be nice to have him out there for the NLCS and on, should the Cubs get that far again.