Should I feel weird about writing a new superlative-laden Jake Arrieta post every 5 days or so? Because I don’t. With all due respect to Rick Sutcliffe and Mordecai Brown, all Arrieta has done this season is post the best pitching performance we’ve ever seen on the North Side.
I can’t really think of much more to say about the transcendent season for the Cubs’ new ace, so I would just like to take a look at his splits and make a few quick observations about them. Join me, won’t you.
If I hadn’t already seen these stats a few times, I’m not sure I’d believe them. But while the ERA is historically low and is the number drawing the most publicity, I’d like to draw your attention to the middle of the grid. Look at that HR/9 total in the 2nd half. For a little context, the next-lowest mark in baseball is Jaime Garcia with 0.33. The groundball % is second only to Brett Anderson (66%) and the home run/fly ball % lags behind only Gio Gonzalez (4.3%).
But where those other guys excel in an single category, Arrieta shows up at or near the top pretty much across the board. Even if you looked only at the 1st half, you’d be talking ace material. But when you factor in the otherworldly numbers after the All-Star Game — which Arrieta was not invited to — it just gets downright silly.
I don’t think there’s anyone in all of Cubdom who’s not anxious about Wednesday’s Wild Card game, but seeing the splits above may help a little. I wrote about Arrieta’s incredible home/road consistency earlier in the season and you can see that it continued to the end. Look at the last 4 columns above to see how incredibly similar they are.
Arrieta’s preparation and ability to block out both literal and figurative noise have allowed him to go out and do his job regardless of the location. He’s not finicky or fickle, and that’s going to serve the Cubs well in Pittsburgh…and beyond.
Finally, we look at Arrieta’s performance by batter handedness. It’s pretty interesting that he’s been significantly better against lefties, which could bode very well if the opposing manager is a by-the-book kind of guy. Too bad Matt Williams and Bryan Price will be watching on TV, huh?
It’s a shame that we’ll see a 95-plus-win team headed home after just one game, but there’s no one I’d rather have on the bump than Jake Arrieta. Like human Xanax, he’s calmed our jangly nerves time and again this season. Speaking as someone who’s already thrumming like the strings of a Les Paul, I’m gonna need all the medication I can get.
But let’s worry about the future when it becomes the present. For now, I just want to appreciate what Arrieta was able to do in what is sure to go down as one of the best seasons in Cubs history.