As expected, Jake Arrieta will not make his previously-scheduled final start for the Cubs on Sunday, who will instead give the ball to Mike Montgomery. You can presume in advance that the start will be used as a “stay fresh and sharp” kind of outing for Montgomery, who figures to be a key swing member of the Cubs’ postseason bullpen.
As for Arrieta, he is able to pitch right now, but he knows he’s not 100% in the hamstring, and he also knows it’s hard to pull back when you’re actually on the mound facing batters in a game.
“Any time you’re in the game, put a hitter in there, it’s hard to take a step back. Especially at the time, we were still fighting to kinda secure our playoff spot,” Arrieta told CSN. “It’s nice now to have a few days just to completely do nothing, work with the trainers, do some stuff for recovery, do some cryo, some hyperbaric chamber, all these different laser lights we have that promote healing and regenerate cell growth.”
You’re picturing Arrieta in a tank hooked up to tubes like Luke Skywalker or Wolverine now, aren’t you? It’s OK. You can admit it. Nerd.
The plan will have Arrieta pitching a simulated game tomorrow, and then again on Wednesday if all goes well (Cubs.com). Joe Maddon suggested that it would likely line Arrieta up to start no sooner than Game Three of the NLDS, which would be the Cubs’ first home game of the series.
I don’t think you’re worried at this point about Arrieta not being healthy enough to make that start. Without a re-injury, he’s going to go. Instead, you just want to have confidence that his delivery, his mechanics, and his command are peaking. Without seeing him on the mound on Sunday, we can’t know that. I am heartened at least to have seen him come back previously from the hamstring injury with his start against the Brewers, and he looked really, really good. The start after that against the Cardinals, he definitely did not. So … well, I guess I’m half-heartened.