Struggling Jake Arrieta ‘not worried about the contract year’

DENVER — Jake Arrieta isn’t the only Cubs starter to struggle in the first five weeks of the team’s championship defense.

But another rough start has put him in places he has never experienced as a Cub. His 5.35 ERA after a 10-4 loss to the Rockies on Tuesday is the highest it has been since he joined the team.

What’s the deal with Arrieta?

That was supposed to be the
megamillion dollar question at the end of the season.

Jake Arrieta during Tuesday's rough start.

But the question now is when will he regain the same form he had in two World Series wins last fall, never mind his 2015 Cy Young season.

One thing Arrieta isn’t concerned about is his next contract.

“I’m not worried about the contract year,” he said after giving up five earned runs, nine hits and three walks in 3⅔ innings in the first game of a doubleheader at
Coors Field. “I’m worried about being healthy and taking the ball every fifth day. If I’m able to do that, the results, in the long run, are going to play in my favor. I know that for sure.”

Arrieta, whose velocity has been down 2-3 mph, was considered the top starter in the upcoming free-agent class.

Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, has compared him to Max Scherzer, a Cy Young winner with the Tigers in 2013, who got a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals in 2015.

“Financially, things are going to work out anyway,” Arrieta added. “I don’t put a whole lot of time and effort and energy into my free agency. I’m here right now to try and win games for the team. I think guys respect that. I think teams respect that.

“And sometimes results, they stink. And right now they stink, from my last three or four starts.”

This one was his shortest since July 5, 2012, almost exactly a year to the day before the Orioles traded him to the Cubs.

It also came just two starts after his 72-start streak of pitching at least five innings — which was the longest active streak in the majors — ended with a 4⅓-inning start in Boston.

“I’m going through a period right now where it’s been tough,” said Arrieta, who added he needs to get more aggressive with more of his pitches. “And I’ve had many of these before in the past, and I know how to deal with it. I just look forward to getting back to work tomorrow and in the next couple days, trying to refine some stuff, and it’ll be better.”

Manager Joe Maddon pointed to a lack of swings and misses that he’s used to seeing from Arrieta and said it could be as simple as a dip in velocity in the early going, which was evident again Tuesday.

But neither he nor Arrieta are concerned about that. Both say he’s healthy and that’s a big factor in
optimism for a turnaround.

A one-out throwing error by shortstop Javy Baez extended a six-run third inning in the first game. But Arrieta made no excuses.

“I didn’t do my job,” he said. “Pretty poor performance on my part.

“It happens,” he added, dismissing the contract-year theory. “There’s been times in the last few starts where things could have gone the complete opposite way. It just hasn’t fallen my way.

“I’m going to continue to try and do the same things, and typically that works out.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

RELATED STORIES

John Lackey’s gem lifts Cubs over Rockies to earn twinbill split

Cubs’ bullpen gets needed rainout in Denver; doubleheader on tap