Jake Arrieta blames decline in performance on heavy workload

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 17: Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) rounds second base after hitting a home run in the fifth inning during an MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs on June 17, 2017 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)
Photo Credit - Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire

Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta just hasn’t been the same pitcher we’ve seen over the past two seasons. After winning the National League Cy Young Award in 2015 and helping the Cubs to their first title in over a century in 2016, Arrieta has struggled over the first two-and-a-half months of 2017. Through 14 starts, he’s posted a record of 6-5 with a 4.64 ERA in just under 78 innings of work. Arrieta’s strikeout rate is up and his walk rate is down from where both numbers were a season ago, but he’s also allowing way more hard contact, which has gotten him into trouble.

The Cubs are looking for answers as to why Arrieta has suddenly struggled, and the pitcher recently admitted to Fox’s Ken Rosenthal that a heavy workload may be to blame:

“As much as we don’t want to say that it carries over from season to season, throwing almost 500 innings over the past two years, I think it did have some effect. I’m not hurt or injured. It’s just that I think my body has reacted accordingly and it’s taken a little bit longer to regain the form that I would like to be in.”

Arrieta pitched 468 2/3 innings between 2015 and 2016. Only Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer has been on the mound for more in that span. Scherzer, however, has looked no worse for the wear.

Arrieta’s innings count was down substantially last season from where it was in 2015, but he’s not the only Cubs starter enduring his fair share of struggles this year. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Kyle Hendricks have all seen their respective ERAs rise dramatically from where they were during the Cubs’ championship season.

Arrieta, 31, will be a free agent after this season.

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