Arrieta to remain starter for G4 as NLCS calls

After Tuesday's rainout, healthy righty stays on turn as Cubs aim to clinch NLDS

October 9th, 2017

CHICAGO -- hopes to spend at least another few weeks pitching for the Cubs, but he's going to be mindful of the moment when he scales the mound on Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

He knows his last start in a Cubs uniform could be against the Nationals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile. Or he could help extend their season by at least one more postseason round, as the Cubs are one victory away from clinching a third straight trip to the NL Championship Series presented by Camping World.

"Just trying to take everything in. Look around a little bit more," Arrieta said Monday. "Trying to, you know, kind of capture some mental images of Wrigley and the fan base and my teammates, and just to try and remember as much as I can about these last couple weeks; if it's my last time in this uniform.

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"These next few days are going to be extremely special, and if we're fortunate enough to get past these guys, like I feel we are, I'm going to do everything I can to enjoy the last few weeks."

He'll have to wait a little longer than expected to make his 2017 postseason debut. Bumped down in the rotation to rest a sore right hamstring, Arrieta saw his scheduled Game 4 start on Tuesday postponed by rain. Manager Joe Maddon said the delay won't affect Arrieta for better or worse.

"It's a push. There's no really extra advantage," Maddon said Tuesday. "He was ready to pitch today. He was ready to go. So there's no real great advantage for us."

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A free agent at the end of the season, Arrieta said he has made an attempt this year to appreciate his time with the Cubs. It's no secret the 31-year-old right-hander turned around his career in Chicago, posting a 2.73 ERA in 128 regular-season starts and winning the 2015 NL Cy Young Award, and his success could be rewarded with a lucrative, multi-year deal in free agency.

For now, though, the Cubs are only looking forward to his next start and hoping to avoid a winner-take-all Game 5 at Nationals Park.

"I can't wait to see Jake out there," said. "We know what he does in the postseason. It's going to be fun."

One thing they won't have to worry about, Arrieta insisted, is the nagging right hamstring injury that limited him over the last month. Arrieta called it a "non-issue" heading into the postseason.

Arrieta exited his Sept. 4 start in Pittsburgh early due to a sore right hamstring and didn't return until Sept. 21. After he pitched three innings in his final regular-season start on Sept. 26, the Cubs pushed him back in their postseason rotation behind , and .

Between starts, Arrieta has thrown two bullpen sessions without incident.

"Timing is really good. The stuff is good," he said. "The arm strength hasn't been affected, and if there's any effect there, I think it's in a positive way."

The last time Arrieta faced the Nats, they ran all over him and former Cubs catcher . Washington stole seven bases and scored six runs on six hits against Arrieta in a 6-1 win at Nationals Park on June 27. Leadoff man led the charge, stealing four bases during Arrieta's four innings.

The Cubs neutralized Turner in the first three games of this series, and Arrieta is determined to do the same in Game 4.

"Especially in this series and this situation, those are going to be of high emphasis to do the best we can to, first and foremost, keep him off the bases," he said. "But if he does get on, doing our best to not allow him to get quality jumps and give our catcher … an opportunity to throw him out."