Stop the presses, Jake Arrieta allowed a run at Wrigley for the first time since July 25th of last year (52 2/3 scoreless) and failed to earn a quality start for the first time since June 16th (24 starts). Huh, maybe the guy is human after all.
Or maybe he was just trolling Stephen A. Smith, who recently shined the white-hot spotlight of investigative journalism on a pitcher who had the audacity to improve over the course of his career. If Arrieta is indeed on the juice, though, it must be the same stuff Steph Curry is using.
While it seemed for a while as though Arrieta would be able to keep his streaks alive indefinitely, I think we all knew they’d eventually have to end. The only real surprise was that it was the Brewers — Or is it Broors? — that scored the run and and chased the ace early. Of course, the Cubs still came out on top and that’s the key at the end of the day.
When it comes to winning, Arrieta’s name on the lineup card is a pretty accurate predictor of victory. In fact, the Cubs have now won his last 18 regular season starts, a club record. And while he wasn’t happy about failing to pitch into the 6th inning, the reigning Cy Young is well aware of the deal.
“In this position last year, I might have been a little more frustrated with that decision,” Arrieta told reporters after the game. “It’s a spot where you take everything into consideration — the extra off-days, the rainout last night, cold weather, extended pitch counts, a long first inning — it is the right way to go.”
Arrieta certainly could have pushed past 92 pitches, but there was no earthly reason for Joe Maddon to have him do so on a cold afternoon against a opponent like the Brewers (I guess I’ll stick with the traditional spelling). There’s also the matter of last week’s 119-pitch no-hit effort against the Reds. Oh, and the fact that we’ve not yet turned the page on the first calendar month of the season.
“Obviously, our most important ballgames are still ahead of us. From this point moving forward, we’re still lined up pretty well.”
Those important games are going to be coming up right away too, as Arrieta’s next three starts will be at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, home against the Nationals Sunday the 8th, and then home to face the Pirates again Saturday the 14th. It doesn’t get much easier after that either. Barring more rain-outs or hiccups in the rotation, Arrieta will open the series in San Francisco on the 20th and will close a three-game set in St. Louis on the 25th. And just for good measure, he’ll cap the month of May with a home start against the Dodgers on the 31st.
As of press time, all of those teams were over .500 and have a combined record of 76-55. May is going to be an important month for Arrieta, but it could be even more important for the Cubs. With 12 division games, nine of which come against the Bucs and Cards, the Cubs could really put some distance between themselves and their primary competition in the Central.
It’s probably unreasonable to expect Arrieta to walk out of May as he will April, with a 1.00 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and a mere .147 batting average against. Then again, it would have been unreasonable to expect him to throw two no-hitters in the last eight months or to put up a 15-0 record with a 0.65 ERA over his last 17 regular season starts either. So, yeah, let’s go ahead and create some unreasonable expectations.
Jake Arrieta is making a career out of exceeding what everyone else thought he could do, why should May be any different?