Jake Arrieta's Agent Leaps to His Defense, Ben Zobrist Has a Wrist Issue, and Other Bullets

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Jake Arrieta’s Agent Leaps to His Defense, Ben Zobrist Has a Wrist Issue, and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We’re doing some family stuff for the Memorial Day weekend, though you’ll probably notice relatively normal coverage around here. The Wife is kind enough to do chunks of the driving, during which I can do the writing thing.

  • After another head-scratching start, where he looked so good at times, got plenty of strikeouts, didn’t walk many, but gave up another couple homers, Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, appears to be working overtime to defend his impending free agent as going through a mere early season blip after a much longer track record of dominance. You can read about Boras’s long defense of Arrieta here at CSN and here at ESPN, but it sure sounds like a “methinks thou doth protest too much” situation. There’s no hiding the velocity issue with Arrieta, and the loss of a couple miles per hour on his four-seamer and two-seamer – whatever the reason – is going to reduce his margin for error on mistake pitches. That’s not to say Arrieta cannot improve his results as he adjusts and/or sees an uptick in velocity as the weather warms up, and he was very good in the postseason, but I don’t think we can ignore that his second half in 2016 was full of struggles.
  • The rest of Arrieta’s season will go a long way to determining not only what he’s able to get in free agency, but also how convincingly the Cubs are able to make a move in the NL Central. Having just two consistent starters in the rotation (Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks) is not going to cut it. For Arrieta, the strikeouts being up and the walks being down are great, but the issue seems pretty clear: hard contact is way up, and groundball rate is way down. That’s a bad combination.
  • Ben Zobrist felt something in his wrist on a swing on Friday, which is why he sat yesterday, and is day-to-day for today (CSN). That opened up the start at second base for Ian Happ against the righty, Brandon McCarthy, though it’s not like you want Zobrist to be dealing with a wrist issue – he’s been among the Cubs’ most consistent hitters lately, reaching base in 23 straight games. Hopefully it’s not something that lingers and saps effectiveness.
  • Speaking of Happ, he’s in a bit of a mini-slump as the adjustment process kicks in – he’s hit just .125/.263/.125 in his last five games, with a 42.1% strikeout rate.
  • The Cubs still have Mike Montgomery in mind as a sixth starter, and Joe Maddon said that’s part of the reason he’s pitched long outings (Tribune). But the specific time and place for a start has not been nailed down.
  • A pre-game Kris Bryant interview from yesterday:

  • Almost 100 years:

  • I am not exaggerating in how impressed I was by this catch:

  • I love it:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.