In last week’s Ask Away, I was asked whom the Cubs could least afford to lose for an extended period of time.
My answer: Jake Arrieta.
As the reigning Cy Young Award winner, ace of the team, and the guy with the least replaceable production, Jake Arrieta is the most crucial individual piece of the 2016 Chicago Cubs.
Of course, that was just one day after a blister on his right thumb (five runs) took him out of his then most recent Spring start before completing a single frame.
Although Arrieta, himself, didn’t seem overly concerned with his outing or the blister, he later admitted to never having dealt with a blister issue before. Meanwhile, manager Joe Maddon was preaching extreme caution, having seen many of his pitchers deal with nagging blisters (for longer than expected) in the past. It was plausible, for a very short time, that Arrieta could go on the disabled list to start the season, retroactive to March 24, and not pitch until the fifth game of the season (not the end of the world, obviously, but less than desirable).
“Everything’s good,” Arrieta said via Patrick Mooney (CSN Chicago). “I’m really just staying on top of it … but it’s been a nonissue, really.” In fact, Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune) reports that Arrieta seemed more fatigued from questions about the blister than from throwing his 102 pitches in his last start.
So, is he ready for Opening Day? In short, yes, he believes he’s mostly there. “I need to sharpen up a couple of things,” Arrieta told Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune), “But I like where I’m at going into our first game.” He later expressed the team’s collective feeling of having big shoes to fill (vis á vis last year’s success), but that everyone is prepared and excited to take on that challenge. “We have high expectations for ourselves. Within the team, we know that everybody expects big things from us. We do as well.”
For more on Jake Arrieta’s last outing, how the blister has healed, and how prepared he is for the season, check out Gonzales’ article here, as well as Mooney’s article here. You can also watch the videos below, for a recap of the game and some words from the man, himself: