Posted on September 6, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has been diagnosed with a hamstring strain that will cause him to miss at least one or two starts. Arrieta underwent an MRI on Tuesday that confirmed the injury. He was forced out of Monday’s start against the Pirates after just 2.1 innings because of pain in his hamstring the team was hoping was merely a cramp.
The good news for Arrieta and the Cubs is that it’s merely a Grade 1 strain, the least severe. The expected recovery time for an injury like this is typically around seven to 10 days. That will likely keep him sidelined for only one or two turns through the rotation. However, at this point in the season, every missed start is important.
“It’s better than it could have been,” Arrieta said Tuesday. “I don’t have a very specific timeline, but seven to 10 days is probably a window that’s close. A lot of it is how I feel day to day.”
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Arrieta certainly isn’t happy about missing time, especially in September. But he’s trying to find the silver lining to being hurt at this point in the season.
“I think it’s good that if it had to happen, it was going to happen now,” said Arrieta. “Taking five or six days off of throwing is something I’ve done multiple times this late in the season anyways. As far as arm strength goes, it might even help a little bit.”
Of course, in the short term, the Cubs will be deprived of one or two starts from their best starter. Arrieta looked rather ordinary during the first half of the season. But he’s been electric since the all-star break. During his six starts in August, Arrieta was 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA. He’s become the undisputed ace of Chicago’s rotation and someone the Cubs now expect to lead them to the postseason.
The Cubs began Wednesday 3.5 games ahead of the Brewers and 4 games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. The Cubs still have six games left against the Brewers and seven against the Cardinals, so there are plenty of opportunities for those teams to close the gap on Chicago. Arrieta is certain to miss this weekend’s series against Milwaukee and could also miss next weekend’s series against St. Louis.
With Arrieta down, every member of Chicago’s opening day rotation has now missed time due to injury this year. Fortunately for the Cubs, Arrieta is the only one currently missing in action. Jon Lester returned over the weekend after a short stint on the DL. Mike Montgomery was filling his spot in the rotation, and Montgomery will now remain in the rotation in place of Arrieta.
“Having Mikey in tow makes it a lot easier to go through a moment like this,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the current state of his rotation. In 11 starts this season, Montgomery is 4-4 with a 4.17 ERA.
The Cubs certainly have the depth to survive an injury to Arrieta. However, he’s been so dominant the second half of the season that there’s a noticeable drop off between Arrieta and whoever replaces him. If either the Cardinals or Brewers tighten the race, Arrieta missing one or two starts could end up making a difference in the end.