Jake Arrieta is not invincible after all.
The ace of the Chicago Cubs have had a few bumps in the road in his last few starts. Signs of dominance are fading ever so slightly. But before fans fear his demise, be advised that Jake Arrieta is only pitching at a normal level. His normal level is still better than most pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Panic entered the minds of Cubs fans on Sunday. What they saw was one of the most unhittable pitchers take the mound and have a regular outing. Although the Cubs only lost 3-2 (courtesy of ESPN), some people are becoming worried about Jake Arrieta and his lack of dominance.
For Arrieta, the expectations are complete game shutouts, games where he only gives up a run, maybe two, and several strikeouts. On his way to a strong performance, for him, it is making opposing hitters look befuddled.
That did not happen versus a struggling Arizona Diamondbacks’ team. In fact, the last four or five starts by Jake Arrieta has featured a games where his pitch count climbed quickly. In the game versus the Diamondbacks, the pitch count went up with the first hitter, Michael Bourn.
“I made some good pitches to him. A good, long at-bat. They had a pretty good approach. They made me show I had the ability to throw strikes or get in the strike zone early with the intent of getting in some hitter-friendly counts. The pitch count got up.”
Twenty out of the last 21 times Jake Arrieta has taken the mound for the Chicago Cubs have ended in victory. His last ended in defeat. Now there is a contingent of Cubs’ fans who are wondering aloud if the magic is fading.
“Well, it was a good run, over the course of half a season or so last year and a pretty good stretch this year. So, get something new started.”
Fear not, the game’s best pitcher over the last 200 games is fine. And so are the Chicago Cubs.
Anyone who follows the history of the Chicago Cubs franchise knows that letdown is usually right around the corner. It is a history that has been on constant repeat for decades now. What gets lost is the fact that the Cubs are 41-16.
The Chicago Cubs are 41-16, and Jake Arrieta is 9-1. Why is there a panic? All of the worries and concerns are going for naught.
There should be no one fearful that a team with, according to Baseball Prospectus, a 99.6 percent chance to make the MLB playoffs, will wind up on the outside looking in.
The Chicago Cubs are fine. Jake Arrieta is fine. His 12 strikeouts in five innings is an MLB first. Arrieta’s fastball clocked in at 97 mph in its peak. Last year’s National League Cy Young winner was dealing on Sunday. It was just that his pitch count got high quickly. He will bounce back from the loss.
It is refreshing, in a sense, that the Cubs’ recent winning ways have changed how people view the team these days. Going to the MLB Playoffs last season when no one expected them to has spoiled the fans. Success is the assumption on the north side of Chicago. It is now a surprise when the Cubs do not win a game. Things are changing for the Cubs.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a two-game losing streak had fans on edge. There were people who called the local sports stations in Chicago to voice their concerns. It is almost as if some Cubs’ fans forgot that the season is a 162-game marathon, not a 16-game sprint the way that the NFL is. The Chicago Cubs will be just fine — as evidenced by their 6-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies Monday night.
As for Jake Arrieta, he will be fine also. No modern-era pitcher has had the success that he has had in a 20-game span. Plus, it is better for Jake Arrieta to lose now than to lose in the MLB Playoffs.
Everyone, just relax!
[Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images]