After reaching an agreement with Jake Arrieta, in which they paid over $3 million more than they originally offered, the Chicago Cubs want to protect their right-handed ace. The team will do so by limiting his workload this spring and early in the regular season.
Arrieta, 29, had never pitched more than 160 innings in a season prior to his 2015 campaign. During 2015, he racked up nearly 230 frames. Since he experienced firsthand just how vital it is for a pitcher to be strong when the postseason comes calling, Jake is assenting with Chicago’s plan.
Instead of working into the eight or ninth inning or longer (he had four complete games in ’15), Arrieta is willing to tone his workload down a notch in the early portion of the season and pitch six or seven innings a start.
The Cubs have the tools in their back pocket that it takes to pull their rotation’s bulldog out comfortably, including Hector Rondon, Clayton Richard, and Adam Warren. All three are more than capable of recording the concluding six or nine outs of a ballgame.
Worthy of note is that the Cubs added John Lackey to the starting rotation this offseason. One would have to go back to 2011 to find a season where he logged fewer than 189 innings. A bulldog in his own right, Lackey brings the ability to pitch a few extra frames during a given start if it means resting a few of those tools in the bullpen.
Fresh off winning the 2015 National League Cy Young Award and poised to make $10.7 million in the approaching season, it’s pleasing to see that a player as competitive as Arrieta is willing to take it easier than he may desire early on in the year if it may benefit the club later on.
A compromise like this does a fine job of exhibiting just how much of a team player Arrieta is.