I saw the quotes late last night after the loss to the Cardinals, but I knew I was going to need some sleep to make sure I didn’t say anything too silly.
Still, it was jarring waking up to headlines like this at Cubs.com: “Not yet fully healthy, Arrieta labors in brief start.”
Not … fully healthy yet?
We always knew that Arrieta had returned from his mild hamstring strain very quickly, but I assumed he wouldn’t be pitching at all if he wasn’t fully healthy yet. Perhaps more alarmingly, Arrieta says that he’s adjusted his delivery to accommodate the hamstring issue.
“I’ve had to adjust a couple things in my delivery,” Arrieta told Cubs.com. “It’s still there a little bit, but I’m fine. I’m plenty healthy enough to go out there and compete and pitch at a high level. I just wasn’t able to do that tonight unfortunately …. I don’t have the drive that I do at 100 percent, but there’s still plenty enough to be effective. The velocity was really good tonight. Stuff’s not an issue.”
Arrieta is quite right that his velocity was fine last night (92-95 mph on his two-seamer), and command was really the issue, plus defensive ineffectiveness behind him. How the leg and the drive off of that leg is impacting him, precisely, is going to be hard for us to say on the outside. If he’s altering his delivery, though, it’s not a stretch to say it could lead to command troubles.
Arrieta looked very good in his first start back from the hamstring injury, so at least there’s some comfort in knowing that he can still pitch at a higher level than another starter you might move into his spot. But he’s got just one more start available to him to ramp up the number of pitches and get ready for a postseason start, which the Cubs were probably hoping was going to be Game One of the NLDS.
So, for now, Arrieta will continue the recovery process, start against the Reds in four days, and we’ll see how he looks and how he feels. From there, the Cubs will have five days off before the start of the NLDS, and thus a little bit of play with when they decide to start him. If he goes Game Three, he’d get an additional three days of rest.
But we’ll get there when we get there.