Rick Renteria didn’t say the Chicago Cubs were planning to shut down, or otherwise artificially limit, Jake Arrieta’s innings this year. But his comments on the topic a couple days ago were ambiguous enough that it seemed to leave open the possibility – particularly when paired with the Cubs’ recent efforts to protect arms, and Arrieta’s early season shoulder issue.
He left nothing unambiguous when addressing the situation the next day, however. In comments noted by the Tribune and CSN, among others, Renteria said, “We’re not shutting him down. We’re not looking to shut him down. We haven’t talked about shutting him down.”
That’s pretty unequivocal – unless something changes with Arrieta, he won’t be shut down.
As I mentioned earlier in the week, that isn’t really a big issue, given that Arrieta’s innings total this year will not dramatically eclipse his mark from 2013. Sure, he had the shoulder issue in the Spring and you do want to protect such an important pitcher, but, if you’re hoping Arrieta can reach 200+ innings next year, you’d like to see him approach 170 or so this year. That will require a full slate of starts from here on out. Also, Arrieta is physically very well-built.
That said, there are only so many innings to go around the rest of the way. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the Cubs decide to dole them out, given the desire to see Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner, and Dan Straily get some starts (and maybe Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch, too, if at all possible). If you’re looking for intriguing September story lines, the rotation is going to be right up there at the top.