Sep 22, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) waves to the crowd after beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
The former opening day starter for the Baltimore Orioles, Jake Arrieta, has been one of the biggest stories of the year in the National League. The prospective Cy Young Award winner has had an incredible season as the leader of the Chicago Cubs pitching staff.
Broadcaster John Kruk said this week of Arrieta that his pitching this year has been the most dominant he has seen in all his years since being a player. That is pretty heady talk, but the numbers bear it out; they are amazing.
Arrieta finished the season with a 22-6 record and ERA of 1.77. Opponents are hitting just .185 off him, left-handers a measly .159! His WHIP number of 0.865 is dazzling for a starter. For comparison, consider that Zach Britton’s is 0.990 and Dellin Betances – the strikeout machine – is 1.012. So, it is like having a starter who is more effective than these two top relievers, but having him not for just 66 innings (Britton) or 74 innings (Betances) but for 227 innings (Arrieta).
Since the beginning of July, opponents have hit only two home runs off him in 131 innings (many of those innings at Wrigley). The team is 16-1 in those games, while opponents hit .153. Arrieta himself hits for a .172 average, and he himself hit as many home runs (two) as he yielded in that time!
Yes, it is grievous that these sorts of successes did not happen with the Orioles. We have written much about that in the past, noting that there was every chance given for him to do so. Sometimes we simply cannot understand why a player suddenly has all the lights come on for him. Is it environment? Coaching? Circumstances? Who knows for sure?
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There was never any doubt that his talent was immense. He was the best athlete in the clubhouse with the Orioles, but it never clicked long-term.
Today, he takes the mound in a one-game Wildcard playoff against the very, very good Pittsburgh Pirates.
Listening to the Dan Patrick show this morning, one of the guys said that the Arrieta story is simply too good for the Cubs — you know, the idea as to how it always goes wrong for them. Just when they are on the cusp of success, something happens to cause it to all crumble around them. He postulated that, even with Arrieta’s incredible success and that he is rested coming into this game, it would fit the Cubs’ narrative over the years for him to crash.
If he does not, it will be the last barrier for me to say that he is not anything but the real deal. He always pitched with fear in his eyes and countenance when in Baltimore. If he makes it through a one-game playoff as the dominant pitcher he has been all year, well, he really is an entirely new person compared to our memories of him in Baltimore.
I wish Jake Arrieta well. I would like for him and the Cubs to succeed. Madden is the real deal as a great manager as well, that much is for sure also.