Cubs' Jake Arrieta Says He's 'Not Even Close' to Finished as Starter amid Struggles

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 7, 2021

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JULY 06: Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field on July 06, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Cubs' Jake Arrieta fought back against the notion his days as an effective starting pitcher may be over after he allowed seven earned runs in 1.2 innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, which raised his ERA to 6.30.

"Not even close," Arrieta told reporters. "This sucks. Really, it does. But I'm not going to hang my head. I'm going to continue to work. I'm going to do whatever needs to be done."

The 35-year-old Missouri native, who won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015 with a 1.77 ERA, added he's still confident in his ability after watching other MLB pitchers.

"I know where my stuff ranks in the game," Arrieta said. "I watch a lot of baseball, and it's still there. It is. This is a tough stretch for us as a team and for me individually."

The right-hander's ERA has steadily risen since he won the Cy Young, however, including throughout a three-year stint with the Phillies before a return to the Cubs:

  • 2016 (CHC): 3.10
  • 2017 (CHC): 3.53
  • 2018 (PHI): 3.96
  • 2019 (PHI): 4.64
  • 2020 (PHI): 5.08
  • 2021 (CHC): 6.30

The advanced numbers also don't suggest there's been much bad luck baked into his dip in performance. His expected ERA hasn't been below 5.00 since 2018, per FanGraphs.

Tuesday's 15-10 loss was the 11th straight for Chicago, which dropped to fourth in the NL Central with a 42-44 record. On June 13, it was tied with the Milwaukee Brewers atop the division at 38-27.

"I contributed to the continued stretch that we're on, and that doesn't sit well with me at all," Arrieta said. "There is still a lot left in the tank. No question about that. The stuff plays. The execution is not there. It hasn't been for a while, but I've been in similar situations in my career. I've been in worse situations than this."

Although the veteran starter expressed continued confidence, Cubs manager David Ross suggested he may consider alternatives for the rotation spot.

"I have to look at that," Ross said. "We have a lot going on, 11 losses in a row. I think there is a lot to look at. I'll wrap my brain around this one tonight. I'll attack the problems in the morning."

Arrieta doesn't have the strikeout rate or velocity clubs usually seek from high-leverage relievers, so he'd probably be relegated to a long relief role if he's moved off the starting staff.

The TCU product is playing on a one-year contract that includes a $4 million base salary for 2021 with a $10 million team option or $2 million buyout for 2022.

If the Cubs stick with Arrieta, his next start would come Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals in the club's final game before the All-Star break.