“Although we’ve come to the end of the road … still I can’t let go …. ”
Heh. Nah, it’s not quite like that.
It’s not as though I’m not aware that this could be Jake Arrieta’s final start with the Chicago Cubs, and it’s not even as though I’m just so hopeful that their postseason run will continue for another few weeks that he’ll make several more starts.
I don’t know why I’m not quite “there” when it comes to confronting the possibility that we could be seeing the end of the road for the Cubs and Arrieta, who is a free agent after this season. It’s probably a combination of the postseason being otherwise all-consuming of our hearts and minds, plus the fact that there’s still a chance that he re-ups with the Cubs (even if, I’ll caution you now, I don’t think that’s the most likely outcome). I know I’m still going to be talking about Arrieta here for a good while yet.
Whatever the case, I’m still not in a “farewell tour” frame of mind, and instead I’m just stoked to see Arrieta back out there today, hopefully looking as good coming off of his hamstring injury as Max Scherzer did.
But if you ARE in that frame of mind, here’s a great ESPN piece about Arrieta, where he says things like this: “[Tonight’s start is] going to be special, that’s for sure. This entire year has been incredible. Being able to get to the postseason three years in a row in this organization … from where we came when I got over here in 2013 has been tremendous, and I’ve met some incredible people. I was welcomed in this organization from the get-go, and, you know, I’m very thankful for Jed [Hoyer] and Theo [Epstein] bringing me over here to give me another opportunity to revamp my career.”
Of the possibility that this is the last start for him in a Cubs uniform, Arrieta said he’s “[j]ust trying to take everything in. Look around a little bit more. Trying to, you know, kind of capture some mental images of Wrigley and the fan base and my teammates and just try and remember as much as I can about these last couple weeks. If it’s my last time in this uniform, I’m going to make the most of it. It’s kind of sad that it could end, but, man, did I enjoy it, and I feel like I maxed out my time here.”
… nope. Nope. Not going there yet. Read up, though, if you’d like.
Of a bit more note today is the fact that Arrieta says he’s felt really good in two side sessions since he had to take a step back after two regular season starts following his hamstring recovery. At least in his comments, it doesn’t seem like his mechanics are out of whack, and his arm strength is still good. Hopefully, then, the added time off will help him return fresh, and with a little extra zip.
The weather is a bit of a wild card today, because it’s supposed to be rainy all day, and you’d love for the mound conditions to stay not-at-all-slippery for a guy coming off of a hamstring injury.
Of course, at the same time, you’d rather not see today’s game pushed to tomorrow, when the Nationals could change things up and go with Stephen Strasburg, and then Gio Gonzalez, if necessary, for Game Five, skipping Tanner Roark entirely.
As with Scherzer yesterday, you just can’t know what you’re going to get with a starter who has missed time like this. Arrieta has within him the ability to dominate – he was the Pitcher of the Month in the NL in August, just before his injury – and you know he’ll be extra motivated given all the color described above. I’m pumped to see him back out there.
Whatever the future holds for Arrieta and the Cubs, he can write another fantastic chapter in the already-existing story today.