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Cubs release Jake Arrieta, ending their tenuous reunion

Arrieta, who was put on unconditional release waivers Thursday, had an 8.35 ERA in 14 starts since May 1.

The Cubs released starting pitcher Jake Arrieta on Thursday.
The Cubs released starting pitcher Jake Arrieta on Thursday.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s finally over.

Right-hander Jake Arrieta’s return to the Cubs was anything but a feel-good story, and after another embarrassing showing against the Brewers on Wednesday — eight runs and 11 hits allowed in a 10-0 loss — the team put the 2015 National League Cy Young winner on unconditional release waivers Thursday.

“After the game [Wednesday], [manager David Ross] and I sat down and talked to him,” team president Jed Hoyer told reporters. “Obviously, he was struggling — not getting deep into starts, and we’d sort of been patient and tried to get through it, and hopefully he’d come out on the other side and pitch better. But we weren’t there.

“We thought [the release] was the right thing to do for him. If he can catch on somewhere, maybe a change of scenery would help him. For us, it just seemed like the right time.”

The Cubs signed Arrieta during the offseason with hopes of reigniting one of the stars of their 2016 championship team after three seasons with the Phillies. When he pitched to a 2.57 ERA after five starts, it appeared things would end well.

But his ERA since May 1 was 8.35, and he reached the sixth inning just once in that span. In his last five starts, he averaged fewer than four innings with a 14.09 ERA.

His struggles made it hard for management to justify his spot on the roster. Even going to a six-man rotation after the arrival of left-hander Justin Steele didn’t help.

Whether it was the boos from the fans at Wrigley Field, the look of disbelief on Arrieta’s face or just harsh reality setting in, Wednesday’s start felt like the end — and it was.

“It was a simple conversation,” Ross told reporters.

Arrieta didn’t have answers for why things went poorly. In his final news conference Wednesday, he gave a brief answer before walking out.

“I’ve got nothing for you, man,” he said. “I’m doing the best I can.”

That was the problem. It’s a sad departure for one of the team’s most iconic players.

“When you look at what the apex of his career was here [with the 2016 World Series], you could argue that he had as much influence in that or as much to do with that as any single player,” Hoyer said.

Said Ross: “It just stinks. I try to forget stuff like [Wednesday] night. What he’s done for this organization, how consistent he’s been with the time I was on his team in ’15 and ’16 — those are the things I’m holding on to.”