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.
The Astros walked off 3-2 winners in the bottom of the 11th inning of ALCS Game 2 against the Yankees. Carlos Correa struck the winning blow, sending a first-pitch fastball from J.A. Happ over the fence in right field at Minute Maid Park, ending nearly five hours of baseball on Sunday night.
Correa’s heroics were precipitated by two highly questionable calls by home plate umpire Cory Blaser in the top half of the 11th.
Astros reliever Joe Smith walked Edwin Encarnación with two outs, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Ryan Pressly. Pressly, however, served up a single to left field to Brett Gardner, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Hinch again came out to the mound, this time bringing Josh James to face power-hitting catcher Gary Sánchez.
James and Sánchez had an epic battle. Sánchez fell behind 0-2 on a couple of foul balls, proceeded to foul off five of the next six pitches. On the ninth pitch of the at-bat, Sánchez appeared to swing and miss at an 87 MPH slider in the dirt for strike three and the final out of the inning. However, Blaser ruled that Sánchez tipped the ball, extending the at-bat. Replays showed clearly that Sánchez did not make contact at all with the pitch. James then threw a 99 MPH fastball several inches off the plate outside that Blaser called for strike three. Sánchez, who shouldn’t have seen a 10th pitch, was upset at what appeared to be a make-up call.
The rest, as they say, is history. One pitch later, the Astros evened up the ALCS at one game apiece. Obviously, Blaser’s mistakes in a way cancel each other out, and neither of them caused Happ to throw a poorly located fastball to Correa. It is postseason baseball, however, and umpires are as much under the microscope as the players and managers. Those were two particularly atrocious judgments by Blaser.