Today, Cubs manager Joe Maddon revealed that, contrary to the previous plan, Jake Arrieta will not start in a simulated game tomorrow, and will instead only pitch in a bullpen session.
I’m prone to wild swings in emotional state as the playoffs draw nearer, so I’m trying very hard to accept and internalize things like this:
Maddon: Arrieta (hamstring) won't go in sim game Wed. Will throw bullpen instead.
Quintana also may not throw. Cubs worried about weather.
— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) October 3, 2017
Joe Maddon says this is not a setback, still expects Jake Arrieta to be in the playoff rotation vs. #Nationals.
— Patrick Mooney (@MooneyNBCS) October 3, 2017
So, maybe everything’s fine, and maybe this was mostly just a decision about the weather and not risking anything with a guy overcoming a hamstring injury. Games Three and Four of the NLDS aren’t for another 6/7 days, so there’s still going to be ample opportunity to throw on the side and sharpen up.
The realities, though, look something like this: Arrieta went from being the literal NL pitcher of the month in August to being parked on the DL with a hamstring injury in September. He returned quickly from that injury, looked good for five innings, and then looked out of whack and extremely hittable for three innings. He then admitted that his hammy was not 100% and he was changing his delivery to accommodate. Then his final regular season start was scratched, and the Cubs said he’d instead start a simulated game. Now that simulated game has been scratched. Even if the weather is a primary factor in that decision, it doesn’t change the fact that it will have been nearly a month since we saw Arrieta making consistent starts … and now he’ll head straight into a playoff start against a killer offense, with a question mark about his mechanics and pitch count.
None of that means Arrieta can’t be healthy, ready, and effective. He can be. I hope he will be. But none of us is going to go into that start with the same level of comfort and confidence that we would have had if Arrieta had been able to make two or three healthy starts (even if one was a simulated start) to gear up.
I guess it’ll all just make for a great story when Arrieta dominates, eh?
Or maybe it’ll be mooted by the Cubs sweeping the Nats in three before Arrieta even has a chance to start.