Disregard the ugly stretch from pitcher Jake Arrieta. What truly pushed the Chicago Cubs to release him was an anti-vaccine, anti-masking sentiment that the 35-year-old pitcher shared with a reporter, according to a For The Win report.
In a Zoom press conference during his final moments as a Cub, Arrieta asked a reporter to take off his mask. Given the interview was entirely digital, the request sounded reasonable to everyone except Arrieta’s critics, who lambasted the player and considered the moment a “final straw.”
On Thursday, the 2015 NL CY Young Award winner played his final game in Chicago, following a 10-0 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. Arrieta surrendered a brutal eight runs and 11 hits.
In an interview after Wednesday’s game, Arrieta assessed his performance:
“It’s tough. Made quite a few good pitches, and they found holes, whether it was in the infield or the outfield. Only one or two balls were really hit hard, but it obviously accumulated. And with Corbin [Burnes] on the mound, a couple of runs is pretty much all that guy needs.’’
After racking up a 6.88 ERA in 20 starts this season, Arrieta hasn’t been on the organization’s good side for a while. His defiant stance against PPE and vaccination mandates just made things worse.
Cubs Presidents of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer gave some insight on the team’s decision to cut ties with their polarizing pitcher.
“He was struggling,” said Hoyer. “Not getting deep into starts. We’ve been patient and tried to get through it and hopefully he [would] come out the other side and pitch better. We weren’t there.”
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela