Arrieta left the Cubs in 2017 to join the Philadelphia Phillies but became a free agent this offseason. His stint with the Cubs led him to two no-hitters in 2015 and 2016, a Cy Young award in 2015, and, of course, to the Cubs’ World Series Championship in 2016. Arrieta also reportedly had better offers from other teams, but “loved the idea” of a reunion with the Cubs.
While some fans will likely be happy with this reunion, Arrieta has shown some decline in recent years. He will be 35 by opening day, and since his start with the Phillies, has dropped from a 3.96 to 5.08 ERA. In 2020, he had just 32 strikeouts. This comes in stark comparison to a season like 2015, where Arrieta had the fourth-highest ground-ball rate at 56.2 percent. This was mostly due to his clutch sinker at the time, which batters have since adapted to.
However, being that it is just a one-year deal for what seems to be a reasonable amount of money, it could still be a nice addition to the Cubs’ rotation. As batters have adapted to his pitching, Arrieta will also likely be expected to make some of his own changes to get more of an advantage against hitters lifting his sinker. And, while fans may not be able to see Arrieta pitch in person with the ease they would have been able to before, Arrieta’s presence could bring a boost to the clubhouse. It will also likely bring a sense of nostalgia for fans, as former manager Joe Maddon has since left for Anaheim, and talks around Kris Bryant being traded have continued.
The rest of the Cubs’ current rotation for 2021 will likely consist of Kyle Schwarber, Zach Davies, Alec Mills, with Arrieta being one of the options to fall to the back end of the rotation.
The Cubs finished the 2020 season with a loss to the Marlins in the NL Wild Card Series after winning the NL Central with a 34-26 record.