No one expected Jake Arrieta to come back to the Chicago Cubs and revert to his 2015 Cy Young-caliber ways. But I don’t think anyone expected to come to dread Jake Day in the way we have so far this season, either. And that’s exactly what things have come to.
After a second consecutive start in which the veteran lasted just 1 2/3 innings this week, Chicago placed Arrieta on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain. Given how long he’s been a mess, though, it’s pretty clear this wasn’t the cause of his struggles. It might have contributed of late, but it’s not at the root of his struggles.
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"“It’s one of those things, I think he thinks he’s fine,” David Ross told MLB.com. “Something’s going on with the way he’s pitching and I think it’s just best if we take care of that, make sure everything’s not some of the cause of what’s going on with him. We’re just trying to give him time to fully recover and make sure that’s not the issue.”"
Since the end of April, Arrieta carries a 7.74 ERA and opponents have an OPS of almost 1.000 against him. To say the least, that’s not going to get the job done, even under the best of circumstances. The right-hander is done until after the All-Star Break, but then the Cubs have to ask themselves: can they afford to keep him in the rotation?
That answer may very well be dictated by what the team does between now and the July 30 trade deadline. If Jed Hoyer blows the whole thing up and trades guys like Kyle Hendricks and/or Zach Davies, he may have little choice but to rely on Arrieta down the stretch and hope he gets things sorted out.
Chicago Cubs: Team’s direction could determine Jake Arrieta’s future
But if, for whatever reason, Chicago doesn’t sell – there is far less certainty regarding Arrieta’s future in the starting five. For that matter, even if the Cubs do shake things up via trade, Ross and Hoyer might opt to give rotation spots to guys like Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson and Cory Abbott instead of a mid-30s guy on a one-year deal.
At this point, you’re either riding with Arrieta through the end of the year or you’re designating him for assignment. There’s zero chance you’re able to trade him – and that’s a shame because this season is absolutely not what the bearded right-hander should be remembered for.