Jake Arrieta landed on the injured list with a thumb abrasion, but the Chicago Cubs pitcher is confident he won’t be sidelined for long.
Brought back on a one-year deal with a club option for 2022 as well, Jake Arrieta has been one of the best surprises in the Chicago Cubs rotation this season. His history with the club is well-documented – a remarkable second half in 2015 that earned him the NL’s Cy Young Award, throwing two no-hitters, and helping the Cubs end their 108-year championship drought in 2016.
Arrieta walked in free agency following the 2017 season, taking a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, but things didn’t go as smoothly for the Plano, Texas native. Injuries plagued his three seasons with the Phillies, and Arrieta posted a combined 4.36 ERA in 64 starts.
After his first start back in a Chicago Cubs uniform, a visibly excited Arrieta told the media via Zoom call that he had been waiting for this day for quite some time.
“I’ve been anticipating this day for a while,” Arrieta explained. “It felt really good. Even though there’s only 20 percent capacity, I’m very thankful for the fans showing up the way they did. Before the first pitch, even before the pitch, they were ready to get after it. It’s just like I remembered it.”
While his velocity is down from his prime years, Arrieta had a terrific month of April. The 35-year-old right-hander posted a 4.31 ERA in six starts, fanning 28 batters in 31.1 innings. His only blemish, a 3.1-inning effort in Cincinnati in which he allowed seven earned runs.
We later learned that Arrieta was dealing with an abrasion on his right thumb but tried to play through it.
“The start in Cincinnati was rough, you know, I tried to battle it out,” the 35-year-old admitted. “I was adjusting the way I threw pretty much everything, so it’s the right way to go. Miss one [start] and be back there for the first game in Detroit.”
The Cubs placed Arrieta, along with Nico Hoerner and Dan Winkler, on the injured list earlier this week, but the big righty sounded confident that he would return when the Cubs face the Tigers on May 14. With three off-days until then, manager David Ross has some flexibility in using a four-man rotation.
The option was there for Arrieta to continue to battle through his injury, which has given fits to other Major League pitchers in the past – Kerry Wood as an example – but both he and the team felt it was best to let the thumb fully heal before rejoining the rotation.
“I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t be able to throw a bullpen tomorrow, which is the plan,” Arrieta noted on Tuesday. “I didn’t want to miss the start, but if I were to go out there today and reopen it, or aggravate it further, then it just sets us back to where we were.”
The Cubs host the Pirates on Friday before heading to Cleveland for a two-game set next week.