Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta is a legitimate Cy Young candidate


After leading the Chicago Cubs to a sweep of the defending champion San Francisco Giants, right-hander Jake Arrieta is a clear front-runner for the NL Cy Young award.

At this point in the season, we’re already looking toward the end-of-year awards, and more often than not, that includes talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke as front-runners for the league’s top pitching honors.

Granted, you wouldn’t be wrong to mention the Dodgers’ one-two punch. Anyone with access to Baseball Reference would be able to make a strong argument for either.

That being said, no pitcher has had a larger impact on his respective team than the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta.

Over the course of the past calendar year, the Chicago ace has pitched to a 2.28 earned run average in 209 innings of work, and of-late, he’s been even more impressive – stringing together a run of quality starts that he’s become known for around the league.

Since becoming a full-time starter in Chicago, Arrieta has turned in a quality outing in an astounding 77.5 percent of his starts; by contrast, Kershaw has done so 82.3 percent of the time across his three Cy Young seasons – 2011, 2013 and 2014.

His latest outing is perhaps Arrieta’s most impressive. He took a potent Giants lineup and kept it off-balance all afternoon, propelling the Cubs to their first four-game sweep of the Giants at Wrigley Field since 1977.

It’s not even that either right or left-handed hitters have fared better against Arrieta. Normally, one side of the plate has at least some advantage against a pitcher. With Arrieta, the “better” side of the dish for hitters, the right side, has seen batters post a measly .229/.273/.352 mark this season.

Since coming to the North Side, Arrieta has blossomed under the tutelage of Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio, who made some mechanical tweaks to the former Baltimore Orioles farmhand, thus turning him into one of the elite arms in the National League.

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Between 2014 and 2015, the 29-year-old ace has been much more effective not just overall, but in inducing swinging strikes. In his time with Baltimore, he averaged a swinging strike just 12.7 percent of the time.

That number has skyrocketed to 17.7 percent in the last two years, which goes along with his trend of simply throwing more strikes in general.

With an arsenal of pitches at his disposal, none noticeably weaker than the others, Arrieta has shown himself to be more than just a flash-in-the-pan this year. After a breakout 2014 season, some said it was a fluke.

But two-thirds through this season, one thing is clear:

The Chicago Cubs are ready for the postseason and it should be Jake Arrieta who takes the ball in the looming potential one-game playoff.

Next: Infielder Gleyber Torres gives Cubs options moving forward