Justin Dukes covers the Chicago Cubs and their developments for WARR.com
As fate would have it, Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta will have to taste the victory of receiving the NL Pitcher of the month award for August while enduring the bitter sting, literally and figuratively of a sidelining injury.
Diagnosed with a Grade 1 hamstring strain, Arrieta remains day to day on the disabled list. Believing his recovery time to be a week or two, it’s unknown just how many starts he could miss.
Thanks to the Cubs hot run in the month of August, they’ve managed to hold on to their division lead and sit ahead by two and half games over the second place Milwaukee Brewers. However, with a few short weeks (that should play out as long as any this year) to go before the playoffs begin, Arrieta’s return hopefully will come sooner rather than later.
Receiving consistent criticism for the bulk of the season for his inconsistent play, Arrieta’s August wasn’t as much impressive as it was simply the standard he had already established for himself in earlier years, his earned run averaged took a pleasant drop to 3.48 from earlier this season, and simply put, there was a greater level of composure with him that began to become contagious.
The Cubs unfortunately have been having an under whelming start to September. Coming off of being swept by division rival Milwaukee Brewers without Arrieta, in their recent series the Cubs were a very average 3-3.
Team President Theo Epstein’s analysis of what made Arrieta successful at this point of the season might be more of a reason than ever that the Cubs should be hoping for a fast recovery time for Arrieta more than they have been.
“With Jake, I think so much of his success relies on getting to a point where he locks in his delivery, because it’s not a traditional delivery,” Epstein told CBS Chicago.
In essence he’s a rhythm player and the only way to maintain your rhythm is by playing.
While Arrieta isn’t necessarily the lynch pin for this team, it definitely wasn’t a just a coincidence that the Cubs had arguably the best month of their season the same time he was playing his best.
The Cubs have another run against the Milwaukee Brewers later this month and if the positive words from Cubs personnel about Arrieta’s health a true, he should be back in the lineup getting his reps before the playoffs arrive.
The Cubs are also anticipating the return of infielder Addison Russell from his foot injury. Recently he has been doing some light jogging before games, but should be back before the playoffs.
The Cubs look to bounce back from their lost weekend against Milwaukee with three games at home against the Mets starting Tuesday night with a weekend series against St. Louis looming afterward.
Justin Dukes is a Chicago-based sports writer, follow him on Twitter @1kingzdream.