Jake Arrieta has been great on the season, but he’s been nothing short of transcendent over his last 15 starts. Well, if you consider 12-1 with a 0.99 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, a .154 batting average against, and a 108/23 K/BB ratio transcendent. Arrieta is hot right now, sizzling. What he’s doing is almost as ridiculous as Bernie Lincicome being allowed to publish his Cubs thoughts in the Chicago Tribune or a guy who can’t comprehend WAR working for MLB.com. The struggle is real, folks.
The only struggle with Arrieta these days though is how to approach him as an opposing hitter. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 29 innings (and counting) and has only given up a single tally of any kind in that same period. He has given up only one home run in the last 109 innings (405 batters faced), which he pretty much erased by hitting one of his own. The man is a living, breathing cheat code. It’s unfair to send him out to the mound because his opponent has almost no chance of winning.
And the thing is, he’s GETTING BETTER.
Arrieta last 4 starts:
0.00 ERA, 29.0 IP, 12 hits, 34/3 K/BB, .121 OPP BA
1 XBH allowed/1 XBH hit
1 run allowed (unearned), 1 scored
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 5, 2015
According to Kamka, today also marked Arrieta’s 8th scoreless start of at least 6 innings, the most for a Cubs pitcher in a single season since Bill “Don’t Call Me Spaceman” Lee had 10 in 1938. Much ado about nothing though, eh, Bernie?
Maybe Jake’s just been beating up on weak teams though. Perhaps a fluke of the schedule has him taking on schlubs every 5th game. But the schedule shows that 9 of his last 15 starts have come on the road and 8 have come against teams with winning records. Of those 8 games, 4 came against division leaders. Guess we can throw the overmatched opponents theory out the window.
Arrieta is now sporting a 2.03 ERA and an 18-6 record, neither of which may impress the general public quite as much as Zack Greinke’s 1.59 ERA and 15-3 record. But more discerning observers will look at Arrieta’s FIP and xFIP numbers of 2.47 and 2.73 and see that they’re appreciably better than the Dodger pitcher’s 2.63 and 3.23. For my money, it’s Clayton Kershaw who should be Arrieta’s real competition for the Cy Young at this point, what with his 2.18/2.03/2.06 ERA/FIP/xFIP slash.
Then again, that pair of SoCal hurlers is costing their team $53 million (Kershaw – $30M, Greinke -$23M) in salary while Arrieta pulls down a paltry $3.6 million. Something tells me the Cubs’ whiskered wonder might be in line for a significant raise here in the not-too-distant future. For now, though, let’s just sit back and appreciate just how unfairly awesome Arrieta has been over the past couple months.
The confidence he brings to this young Cubs team is undeniable and it’s almost gotten to point where his starts are mundane as a result. Ho-hum, Jake threw 8 more scoreless innings. Yeah, what else is new? Sure, it’d be nice to see them provide more than 2 runs of support and there will come a time when they may need to. But that time isn’t now, as the man the Cubs got (along with Pedro Strop) for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger continues to establish himself as a bona fide ace.