Jake Arrieta walked off the mound at Coors Field two weeks ago thinking it was his last time pitching in Denver’s thin air.
He was knocked around by the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 5, giving up four runs on nine hits in just four innings for the Chicago Cubs. But in a twist, the former Cy Young Award winner will be back on the hill in Denver when he makes his San Diego Padres debut on Wednesday.
The Rockies will counter with righty Chi Chi Gonzalez, who is making his first appearance in nearly a month.
Colorado has won the first two games of a three-game series, including a 7-3 victory Tuesday night.
Arrieta (5-11, 6.88 ERA) was out of work less than a week after the Cubs placed him on waivers. He struggled in his second stint in Chicago, and his postgame comments mocking a reporter for wearing a mask on Thursday led to the Cubs parting ways with him.
Four days later the Padres signed him to a minor league deal with the aim to have him start the last of a three-game series against the Rockies.
Arrieta’s signing was made necessary as the injuries piled up in San Diego’s rotation. Yu Darvish was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with lower back tightness, and Chris Paddack has been on the IL since July 28 with an oblique strain.
Padres manager Jayce Tingler was upfront about the reason for signing the 35-year-old Arrieta.
“We need quality innings, we need pitches, we need an opportunity to win games,” Tingler said Monday. “With all of his experience, everything he’s done, we need some quality innings these last seven weeks and we think he can be part of that solution.”
Arrieta will need to change his history against Colorado to help San Diego get back on track. In seven career starts against the Rockies he is 2-3 with a 6.16 ERA, including his one start against them this season.
Gonzalez (3-6, 6.06) is getting the start because lefty Austin Gomber was placed on the paternity list to be with his wife for the birth of the couple’s second child. Gonzalez last pitched on July 23 and has been out since being placed on the COVID-19 list.
Gonzalez is expected to be limited to 70 or 80 pitches on Wednesday. He threw just 2 2/3 innings in his rehab start in the Arizona Complex League on Friday.
Gonzalez is making his seventh career appearance and sixth start against San Diego. In his previous games against the Padres he is 0-2 with a 6.04 ERA.
Colorado is trying for its second home sweep of San Diego this season in Wednesday’s getaway game. The Rockies have struggled mightily on the road but they’ve played well at home, especially against winning teams.
They can further influence the playoff race Wednesday.
“First of all, I don’t want to be in that position, I don’t want to be a spoiler … so let’s get that clear,” manager Bud Black said Tuesday. “But our record is what it is. I like playing against good teams. I like that for our guys. They come to the park, knowing that the league is watching.”
–Field Level Media