The 2017 roller coaster season for the Cubs continues with more big wins, tough losses, and nagging injuries. Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh saw pitcher Jake Arrieta leave the game in the third inning when he pulled up lame on a pitch to Josh Bell. The way he came down and grabbed the back of his leg immediately suggested it was a hamstring problem, and the worst was feared by many. They had already lost catcher Willson Contreras to a Hamstring Injury, are dealing with the loss of Addison Russell to a foot injury and had Jon Lester have to miss some time with a lat muscle problem.

The team is in a playoff race makes missing another key player even more significant, and Arrieta had been a major part of this team's second half success.

The Cubs enter the final stretch of the season in first place, but still trying to fend off the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. Entering Thursday morning the Cubs have a 4.0 game lead over the Cardinals and a 4.5 lead over the Brewers with 23 games left. While the lead for Chicago is decent, it is still close and nothing is over by any means.

Arrieta's diagnosis

The diagnosis on Arrieta was grade I hamstring strain which is relatively minor compared to other hamstring injuries. He will likely miss one or two starts and looks like recovery time from the injury will be a week to ten days tops.

With the final weeks of the season upon them, missing that short time is a lot better than missing the rest of the season, even though it is ideal he does not miss any time but overall it could have been a lot worse. Mike Montgomery will take Arrieta's place in the rotation this Saturday at Wrigley Field when they face the Brewers in a fairly significant series.

This injury is also happening during a time when manager Joe Maddon has stretched out his rotation in years past with the playoffs looming. Arrieta told CSN Chicago that going five days without throwing is something he is used to doing this time of year and explains that the timing of the injury is not as bad as it may seem.

Maddon was going to stretch out and expand his starting rotation again regardless so nothing is altered too much in terms of the pitching plan.

Arrieta's value to the team

It has been a very odd season for the former Cy Young winner in 2017. He started off on a real rough note struggling with his command and giving up home runs and finished the first half with a 4.35 ERA, 4.16 Fielding Independent Pitching, 1.30 WHIP, and 1.24 HR/9. Often times he would start a game and have some solid innings and then he would hit a wall and fall apart in the mid-innings.

However, in the second half, he has bounced back and was awarded Pitcher of the Month in August.

Since the All Star break he sports a 1.98 ERA, 3.66 Fielding Independent Pitching, 1.02 WHIP, 0.92 HR/9 and 23.3% K rate. He may not be making the ridiculous complete-game shutout starts he was making in 2015, but his ability to give quality starts going six or seven innings has helped the Cubs a lot in the second half. If the Cubs do indeed make the postseason he will be an essential piece to have in playing for another long October run.