Just like the acquisition of Kyle Hendricks, the Chicago Cubs knew the ceiling for Jake Arrieta was high, but they couldn’t be sure he would reach it. If he hasn’t reached it yet, the Cubs have a lot to look forward to in 2015.
After coming over from the Baltimore Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, Arrieta showed some of his potential for the Cubs last season, going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA. He was held out most of the spring due to shoulder soreness, and didn’t make his debut till May 3. The season started off slow for Arrieta, as it was apparent he hadn’t shaken all the rust off yet. By June, all the rust was gone, and gold started to show through.
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The month saw him post a 4-0 record, 0.92 ERA, and a .157 BAA, while striking out 48 and walking only six. After the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, it was clear that Jake Arrieta was becoming the Ace of the Cubs staff. And he seemed to have no issues with shouldering that responsibility.
He also seemed to take a liking to no-hitters, at least for six innnings. On three separate occasions, Arrieta took a no hitter into the seventh. On his final attempt against the Cincinnati Reds, he took it into the ninth. With one out, and only a walk to Billy Hamilton to blemish his line, Brandon Phillips hit a deep fly ball to left center. Center fielder Matt Szczur made a spectacular effort, but came up just short. Arrieta would go on to finish the game for a one-hit shutout, his first career complete game.
In reality, Arrieta only had two bad games all season. an outing in Colorado, and one against the Reds. He redeemed himself against the Reds though. In those two outings, he allowed 15 of his 44 earned runs. He was near unhittable the rest of the year.
The Cubs may take this off-season to try to add another top pitcher to the rotation. But with Arrieta and Hendricks coming off the 2014 campaigns they had, it will be hard for any pitcher to come in and dethrone Arrieta as the ace of the staff. After toiling away in Baltimore, never quite finding his way, the Orioles gave up and sent him off to Chicago. The Cubs couldn’t be happier with what they have in Arrieta. Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed.