Jake Arrieta expected to miss start of season after bout with shoulder soreness

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Jake Arrieta was expected to compete for a rotation spot with the Cubs this spring, but it sounds like he’ll have to wait to get his opportunity.

According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said today that Arrieta felt shoulder tightness over the winter and is not expected to be ready for the start of the season. While he’s feeling good now, the Cubs were forced to restart his throwing program, so the calendar just isn’t working in his favor.

Arrieta, who turns 28 in March, was acquired from the Orioles last July in the Scott Feldman deal and went on to post a 3.66 ERA and 37/24 K/BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings over nine starts. He owns a 5.23 ERA over 72 starts and six relief appearances in the majors.

As of now, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel are assured of spots in Chicago’s rotation. Assuming Arrieta is out of the mix, Carlos Villanueva, Chris Rusin and James McDonald will compete for the fifth spot.

Dusty Baker expects Stephen Strasburg to make his next scheduled start

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Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks. The right-hander reportedly had trouble getting loose and it showed: he yielded a hit and three walks to the 10 batters he faced. According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Strasburg had “some nerve impingement that has been alleviated.”

Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to make his next scheduled start on Saturday at home against the Rockies, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Strasburg was examined by doctors, who deemed him to be in good shape — enough to not warrant undergoing an MRI.

Through 20 starts, Strasburg owns a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio across 121 2/3 innings. Though the injury scare isn’t what the Nationals hoped for, he’s done well in the first year of his seven-year, $175 million contract extension.

John Lackey hit four White Sox batters today

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Cubs starter John Lackey didn’t have his best stuff on Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field against the White Sox. The right-hander hit four White Sox batters over the course of five innings. He yielded just two runs, though, on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He left with a 4-2 lead.

Lackey hit Jose Abreu with one out in the first inning, then hit Abreu again in the fifth. He then hit Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada shortly thereafter. Chris Beck relieved Carlos Rodon for the White Sox in the bottom of the fifth and promptly hit Ian Happ with a fastball to lead off the frame. Home plate umpire Lance Barksdale issued warnings to both benches and the beanings stopped.

So, how often do pitchers hit four batters in a game? Not that often! The last to do it was the Reds’ Josh Smith on July 4, 2015 against the Brewers. Before that, it was the Nationals’ Livan Hernandez on July 20, 2005 against the Rockies. Lackey is only the ninth pitcher to hit four batters in a game since 2000 and the 26th since 1913. The only other Cubs pitcher to do it besides Lackey was Moe Drabowsky in 1957.