The Rundown: Thumbthing’s Wrong with Arrieta, Russell Raking

Given that they’re an eclectic group headed by an eccentric leader, the Cubs are kind of like a latter-day version of Welcome Back, Kotter. And now they’ve got a bona fide sweathog in Jake Arrieta. Were Siskel and Ebert still around to do so, I think they’d have given the starter’s performance once thumb up and one down.

Arrieta hit a game-tying home run to account for most of his team’s offense Saturday night, but he also imploded in the 5th inning, allowing two hits while throwing two wild pitches and hitting a batter. The only plausible explanation is that Rick Ankiel grew a beard and was masquerading as Arrieta last night.

Or maybe that Arrieta was sweating so profusely that he couldn’t get grip on the ball.

“Thumb’s great,” Arrieta said after the game. “It was more so completely soaking wet, hands were slick. Rosin at that point didn’t help. I tried to take some effort off just to command something in the strike zone and it didn’t work out.

“[The thumb] is good. I had Dermabond [a topical skin adhesive] on there two or three times…I reapplied it twice between innings just to keep it covered and that’s okay.”

In case you had somehow managed to miss it, all this business with Arrieta’s thumb is related to a cut that developed there following a blister that popped up during spring training. So that’s cool. I mean, a chronic issue that has persisted for four months now is certainly nothing to be worried about. And it’s only on the pitching hand of a guy who relies on a ton of feel to execute.

Even if we take Arrieta at his word — and Joe Maddon said pretty much the same thing, though he kind of had to — there’s something very concerning about this sweat issue. I mean, we’re heading into the hottest part of the year and it’s not as though perspiration will cease to be a thing. Not when he’s already sweating like a spring breaker trying to mule a kilo back from Tijuana.

Maybe Arrieta just needs to pony up for some clinical strength Right Guard or something.

What it comes down to at the end of the day is that the excuses, however valid they are on an individual basis, have started losing value. You can’t look back over a series of starts and successfully explain away every one of them with flukes and bad breaks. Well, you can, but it’s not going to hold water. At some point, you have to look at the source and accept that there’s a reason all those seemingly inexplicable things keep happening.

Russell raking

Since being out for a bit following what FOX broadcasters not so deftly explained away as a managerial decision, Addison Russell has been hitting .304/.333/.783 with 3 home runs and and 7 RBI. It’s only in 24 plate appearances, but that’s significantly better than what we’d seen from him up to that point.

This is weird territory, as I’m hesitant to draw any conclusions about his mental state and what kind of psychological factors may or may not have been impacting the shortstop. I’ll leave you to your own conclusions there, though it could simply be total randomness.

More news and notes

  • Mike Trout is set to start swinging a bat next week
  • The Astros have shown interest in Sonny Gray
  • Andrew Cashner has landed on the DL with an oblique strain
  • The vote for the Cubs’ official song is down to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction and Under My Thumb
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