After his incredible run in the second half of the 2015 season, Chicago Cubs fans are hoping Jake Arrieta will continue to have some magic up his sleeve again this year following the All-Star break.
Disguised behind the team’s incredible first half of 2016 and an exploding offensive lineup filled with players who bring their big boy bats, night in and night out, Arrieta hasn’t exactly lived up to the expectations he created for himself, especially his last few trips to the mound.
This is my first article at the Cubbies Crib and I don’t want to start things off on the wrong foot, so let me make a couple of things clear. I love the Cubs. I have been patiently waiting for next season my entire life. That being said, I don’t believe the season Arrieta has had so far is exactly the way he planned on following up winning the Cy Young.
Jake has put up some incredible numbers this season. A record of 12-2, 111 strikeouts with an ERA of 2.10, he’s even swung the bat a few times so far. He has done all of this without the dominating command, he brought to the hill throughout 2015. I just want to irritate. I am not a hater. I think Arrieta is a beast on the mound and will be in the running to win the Cy Young for a second consecutive year. These are just a couple facts that I have noticed. Maybe I pay a little too much attention. Maybe I get a little paranoid and expect the worst. I can’t help it. I’ve been a Cubs fan my entire life.
Because of the effectiveness of his pitch arsenal, Arrieta is able to get away with some things other pitchers only dream about. But his last couple trips to the mound, he hasn’t had the control which made him our hero last season.
Monday night in Cincinnati, he spent most of his time on the mound behind in the count which led to 5 walks. It doesn’t matter what your record is as a pitcher or who your team puts in the batter’s box, if you are unable to stay ahead in the count, eventually the well will be left dry. When he struggles locating his pitches on a consistent basis, he spends less time on the mound due to a high pitch count and creates unneeded stress on a bullpen that has been known to struggle from time to time. Six times this season, Arrieta has failed to pitch beyond the 5th inning. That isn’t exactly a stat you would want to associate with the ace of your pitching staff, and yes, he’s is the ace of the Cubs rotation and I expect him to be for the rest of the season. Before you head off to the comment section to let me know how insecure I am, think back to Arrieta’s previous two starts before his win in Cinci Monday night.
During a 7-2 loss to St. Louis, Arrieta tossed 106 pitches and walked four. He was riding pine after the 5th inning. Before that, he went for six shutout innings in Pittsburg. He barely made it out without giving up a run and needed 112 pitches before calling it a wrap.
I choose to believe the Cubs are past blowing a division lead this big in the second half of a season. With their mid-relief pitchers questionable depending on what day of the week it is, I’m not so confident in their ability to finish 2016 with the best record in the majors.
I want to believe that his last three starts have just been a fluke, that Jake has had something on his mind, too much fun the night before, anything other than the idea that his aim is slowly losing a little bit of its precision. Maybe he is so focused on a spot in the home run derby that his aim has been a little off. I refuse to believe that this has anything at all to do with “Murphy” or Billy Sianis. However, I am not willing to mention any word that starts with c in reference to farm animals until Arrieta demonstrates the control that resulted in his heroic efforts of 2015.