This feels like a classic good-news-bad-news situation, since any injury-type-thing is not good, but at least it’s part of an explanation for an ugly performance.
The final tally on Jake Arrieta’s velocity last night was that it was down, on average, 1.5 mph on the sinker. In fact, pretty much everything was down last night, including his spin rates (significantly down, actually). I noticed the velo live while watching, and got curious about the spin rates after seeing Arrieta get thumped.
Turns out, there was a good reason for the issues: Arrieta was pitching through a cut on his thumb.
Arrieta said the cut opened up “pretty good” after his outing vs. Milwaukee this past Sunday. With it glued shut, he said he had trouble throwing his cutter Friday.
“I tried to force it throughout the game, gave up a couple homers on it,” Arrieta said of the pitch. “That’s my fault and I should’ve opted to go for something else and didn’t.”
If the cut was successfully glued shut and was healing, I can understand Arrieta thinking he could still go, even if he also knew his margin for error was going to be even less than usual. The Cubs probably could’ve scrambled and had someone like Keegan Thompson come up and take the start (he’s joining the bullpen today as the long man), but I imagine all sides did the math and wanted to see if they could sneak a decent outing out of Arrieta. The bet didn’t pay off.
Now we have all the more reason to watch the data on Arrieta’s next outing, where you would hope to see the velo and spin rates jump back up to normal. If not, you wonder if he’s actually over the cut issue, and/or whether pitching through it caused any short-term bad habits to develop.