Former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta was released by the Chicago Cubs late last week.
It was his second stint with Chicago, and it simply did not work out this time around.
The 35-year-old pitched to a 6.88 ERA, 6.12 FIP, 1.76 WHIP, and -2.1 WAR over 20 starts with the Cubs in 2021.
It was ugly, and the organization decided to cut ties with the veteran.
When he was released, most fans speculated that Arrieta’s career was over, but actually, that’s not the case.
On Monday, the San Diego Padres swooped in and signed him to a deal for the remainder of the season.
Padres close to signing Jake Arrieta, sources tell @TheAthletic. Expect to finalize deal soon.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) August 16, 2021
The move baffled some folks, but for Arrieta, it’s going to be a great opportunity to prove that he still has something left to offer.
Mapping Out Some Goals For Arrieta In San Diego
With Yu Darvish on the injured list, the Padres are presumably going to give Arrieta a legitimate chance in the rotation.
Chris Paddack is also on the shelf for San Diego, so the Padres need someone to eat innings until those guys return.
Arrieta needs to make the most of his opportunity.
No one is expecting him to pitch like the perennial Cy Young candidate he used to be, but if he can keep the Padres in games, the signing will be regarded as a big success.
Each time out, Arrieta’s goal should be to last five or six innings while allowing no more than three or four runs.
There’s nothing flashy about starts like those, but he merely needs to give San Diego’s elite offense a chance to get the job done.
That’s really not a lot to ask of him.
He’s going to make his first start as a Padre on Wednesday, and it will be interesting to see how he fares.
Game 123: Padres at Rockies, 12:10 p.m. PT at Coors Field
Forty to go. Jake Arrieta makes his debut, with Matt Strahm (right knee inflammation) landing on the IL to clear space on the roster. pic.twitter.com/PHYzUy632i
— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) August 18, 2021
What Will The Padres Do With Arrieta Once Darvish And Paddack Return?
Once Arrieta completes his job as an innings-eater, he likely won’t get any more starts.
After all, the Padres would much rather have Darvish and Paddack in the rotation.
But that doesn’t mean Arrieta couldn’t make a move to the bullpen.
He would first need to show San Diego that he’s still got what it takes to be an effective big-league pitcher, but it’s not far-fetched to think that the team could find him a home as a long-innings guy in the bullpen.
He could benefit from pitching a role that allows him to empty the tank over two or three innings as opposed to having to conserve his energy over the course of a start.
There’s a reason veteran pitchers are often successful when moving from the rotation to the bullpen: Pitching in a relief role allows you to let it rip as soon as you enter the game.
There’s no need for bullpen guys to save energy for later in the game.
Could Arrieta Be A Valuable Piece In The Playoffs?
For what it’s worth, Arrieta has a great postseason track record.
There’s very little chance of the Padres giving him a playoff roster spot, but if the team finds itself dealing with injury concerns, then Arrieta could slide in.
He has a career 3.08 ERA over nine postseason starts, and he was a huge part of the Cubs’ run to the World Series title in the 2016 season.
That’s worth keeping in mind.