Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has struggled most of the season in a Cubs reunion that hasn’t gone as hoped, was put on the 10-day injured list Wednesday with tightness in his right hamstring.
Arrieta started the season decently enough, posting a respectable 4.31 ERA in April, but his ERA for June was 8.31. His most recent start — six hits and seven runs allowed in 1⅔ innings Tuesday against the Phillies — pushed his season ERA to 6.30, his highest since 2012, when he had a 6.20 ERA with the Orioles.
The decline in his performance started around the end of May, which is when the hamstring started acting up, according to manager David Ross. Tuesday’s poor outing might have been the catalyst for the IL decision, despite Arrieta’s desire to pitch through it.
“It’s one of those things [where] I think he thinks he’s fine,” Ross said. “Something’s going on with the way he’s pitching, I think it’s just best if we take care of that — make sure that thing’s not some of the cause of what’s going on with him.”
The combination of the bad start and the IL might give the impression Arrieta has pitched his last game for the Cubs this season, but he insists he’s not done.
“Whatever has to be done will be done,” he said Tuesday. “I’m not going to put my head down and pout about it.”
Having the time off to recover physically could help get him back on course. Ross hopes it will be a mental reset as well.
“You can also free up your mind to just get clear on what you want to do,” Ross said. “It gives you a time to work on things.”
The Cubs’ woes as a whole are forcing questions about whether Arrieta’s trip to the IL won’t be the first of other changes. The trade deadline looms later this month, and the Cubs sank to fourth in the National League Central with Tuesday’s loss.
“I think there’s a lot of things that could change if we don’t start winning,” Ross said. “We’ve got to be better for sure.”
Cory Abbott was recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take Arrieta’s place on the roster. He has a 4.32 ERA in four relief appearances totaling 8 ⅓ innings this season.
Arrieta’s spot in the rotation comes back around Sunday, but Ross said he hasn’t decided who will take the mound. Trevor Williams returned from the IL on Tuesday and threw 3 ⅔ innings in relief against the Phillies, so if he isn’t used in the coming days, he could be a possibility. Williams started 10 games this season before going on the IL on May 26 after an appendectomy.
Otherwise, Justin Steele could step in after pitching Wednesday night for Triple-A Iowa. Keegan Thompson has made 29 career starts in the minors, but Ross said he wants to keep him in the bullpen for now.
Baez’s thumb an issue again
Shortstop Javy Baez was scratched less than 30 minutes before the first pitch Wednesday with a sprained right thumb, an injury that also sidelined him for a few games in June. Baez had been hot at the plate, hitting .333 over the last seven games. He had a solo home run in Monday’s series opener and on Tuesday hit two more long balls for his 10th career multi-homer game.