Depending on your perspective, Jake Arrieta’s explanation for his disastrous outing Friday night could have come across as a flimsy excuse. The righty allowed six runs on six hits, two of which left the yard, and exited after two innings of work to make it his shortest outing of the season. His game score of 5 was equal to his result from April 30 against the Reds, which had previously stood alone as his worst of the year.
He hit the IL immediately after that game with a cut on his thumb, which is a solid reason for not pitching well. Except that he probably shouldn’t have been pitching in the first place, or shouldn’t have been in the game as long as he was.
That was definitely the case Friday night because, as Arrieta admitted afterward, he threw up before the game and after he left. He told the media it could have been something he ate and said he thought he had more in the tank. Being macho is cool, I guess, but discretion is most definitely the better part of valor in many cases.
David Ross said nothing about his starter’s illness during his postgame comments, which might mean nothing at all. Perhaps he was just preoccupied with the tiff between Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras. Maybe Arrieta hadn’t told him about it and Ross was upset about it.
Given his transparency in the past, I have to think Ross would have owned the decision to let a sick Arrieta throw if it had been a managerial call. Not that it really matters at this point since what’s done is done. The important thing is that Arrieta has an 8.28 ERA over his last six starts with just 16 strikeouts over 25 innings.
Even the most earnest explanation can’t whitewash those numbers, nor do repeated short outings help the bullpen. Speaking of which, Keegan Thompson finally looked human by allowing two homers in just as many innings as the starter.
Just like the yelling match in the dugout, this individual performance may end up being nothing moving forward. Unlike the spat of brotherly love, however, there’s a very real possibility that Arrieta’s disappointing production will continue. And after a certain point, there are only so many excuses you can stomach.