Don't get into panic mode, but I think we can all officially be concerned about Jake Arrieta.
Jake himself is:
#Cubs Arrieta: "Poor performance on my end. The command wasn't great, the stuff wasn't very good."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 3, 2016
Arrieta: "It's frustrating for me. I expect a lot more out of myself and to let it continue for 3, 4 starts is not something I like to see"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 3, 2016
The first inning did Jake in (even though the Cubs tied the game later). A 33-pitch inning featured Jake running 3-2 counts on the first two hitters, Brandon Nimmo and Neil Walker. He walked Nimmo and Walker homered to give the Mets a 2-0 lead, and Jake was 14 pitches into the game without recording an out. He ran full counts on two other first-inning hitters before finally finishing the innning. He appears to be right about "stuff," as he only touched 94 on a handful of first-inning pitches, most of them coming in at 91 or 92.
As I noted, the Cubs did tie the game in the fourth inning on a single by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo's 20th homer of the season [VIDEO], a towering blast to center field. That, at least, provided this bit of team history:
But then Jake's command issues came back in the bottom of the inning. He walked Alejandro De Aza with two out and a runner on first base.
You just can't do that. De Aza had walked seven times in 105 plate appearances this year before that one.
Travis d'Arnaud then popped a ball into short center field just out of the reach of Javier Baez, and both runners scored.
We didn't know it, but that was the game right there. Ben Zobrist yanked a ball down the line [VIDEO] for his 11th homer in the seventh, making the score 4-3, but that's where it ended, the Cubs' third straight loss.
It didn't help that plate umpire Laz Diaz made what appeared to be several egregiously bad calls against the Cubs:
You could see Joe Maddon seething in the dugout after all three of these calls, two of which were strike three calls. The Cubs had the tying run on base after Zobrist's homer twice: Jason Heyward walked immediately after the homer, but was stranded, and Rizzo singled leading off the eighth with the same result. The Cubs were just 0-for-1 with RISP on the night, noting their inability to get anyone past first base except on home runs.
Chris Coghlan left this game with what was described as "right rib cage soreness," which is why Baez was in the game in the first place. Tommy La Stella, who has been on rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa, did not play in Saturday night's I-Cubs game. It would not surprise me if he was on his way to New York Saturday, and might be activated Sunday with Coghlan placed on the disabled list.
Back to Jake: it's certainly no coincidence that the Cubs' recent struggles have matched up with Jake's. When the best pitcher on the ballclub posts a 4.05 ERA and 1.440 WHIP over a six-start span, that's going to have a ripple effect through the rest of the staff. Let's hope Jake and Chris Bosio can figure out what's wrong, and that it's nothing more than mechanical adjustments that need to be made.
Jake, Jon Lester and John Lackey will all get an extra day of rest heading into the All-Star break; perhaps that will help. Here's how the Cubs' rotation will go for the next seven games after Lester faces the Mets Sunday afternoon:
That sets up the rotation best given the three pre-break opponents, I think. It wouldn't hurt to have Dexter Fowler back, too, but that isn't likely before next weekend.
In the meantime, perhaps the Cubs can salvage the final game of this series in New York Sunday afternoon. Lester goes against Noah Syndergaard Game time is 12:10 p.m. CT. The game preview will post at 10:45 a.m. CT.