Where does Jake Arrieta rank in the National League?
After an off-season that showcased a plethora of top-notch starting pitchers, the Chicago Cubs are sitting pretty with their new and improved pitching staff that features the return of Jason Hammel, and the arrival of ace lefty Jon Lester. While these additions are without a doubt game-changers, they seem to overshadow the ace-like value that Jake Arrieta has repeatedly shown.
So this begs the question, how does Arrieta stack up against the other aces in the National League?
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At 6’4, 225 pounds, the 28-year-old right-hander has all the makings of an All-Star caliber pitcher, but just wasn’t able to prove that in his first few seasons in the Majors. However, his performance last season changed that. In 2014, Arrieta began the season in the minors due to shoulder discomfort felt in spring training, but took the league by storm when he returned to action, winning six of his first seven decisions and posting at least seven strikeouts in each of his wins.
His pitching arsenal includes a decent fastball that can occasionally reach the upper 90’s, to go along with a slider, a sinker, a change-up and, his bread and butter pitch, the curveball. This array of pitches ultimately led him to a 10-5 record to go along with a 2.53 ERA and a solid .99 Whip. He also allowed just five home runs, took a no-hitter into the seventh inning three different times, and ranked fifth in the National league in wins above replacement with a 5.3 WAR.
For the most part, when compared to the Clayton Kershaws’ and Madison Bumgarners’ of the world, Arrieta isn’t going to blow anyone away with electric stuff. But what we can count on him doing is locating his pitches, picking his spots and setting up batters to unleash his put away pitch. His calm and poised approach to each at-bat has allowed for his sustained success, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change.
In my opinion, what Arrieta was able to accomplish last season makes him one of the best pitchers in the National League. And to those who may argue that last year was simply too small of a sample size to gauge, and to the doubters who claim it will not last, I say this; just wait and see.
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