Cubs will pump the brakes a bit on Jake Arrieta

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Jake Arrieta won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award after registering a brilliant 1.77 ERA, 0.865 WHIP, and 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 regular-season innings. Over his final 12 starts, his ERA was 0.41 and the Cubs went 12-0.

But the 29-year-old right-hander threw just 156 2/3 innings in 2014, and he totaled 248 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason combined in 2015. That’s a difference of nearly 100 innings, and the Cubs are at least somewhat concerned about the sudden jump in workload.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon told MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat this weekend that Arrieta will be held behind some of the other pitchers in camp as spring training gets underway and that there will be a “proactive” plan to monitor his innings during the regular season. That probably means fewer complete games — Arrieta threw four complete games in 2015, tied for the most in the majors.

Chicago probably has the best position player talent in baseball, but one thing the Cubs lack is high quality pitching depth. Arrieta needs to be protected.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).