Chicago Cubs News

What the Chicago Cubs need from each starting pitcher in the second half

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Jul 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 15, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws a pitch against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a baseball game at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports /

Here’s where we find out if Jake Arrieta‘s historic second half of 2015 was a flash in the pan, or if he’s truly the real deal. Will he get back to being the league’s most dominant ace, or is Chicago stuck with Baltimore Jake?

Arrieta has pitched to the tune of a 12-4 record and a 2.68 ERA. Don’t get me wrong, that’s good. Really good. But the trend lately has been somewhat concerning. Something is just off.

One thing I’ve noticed is that his monster 12-6 curve hasn’t been nearly as effective as it was last year. Batters just aren’t swinging at it, and as a result, they’re walking an awful lot. Here’s the difference; last year Arrieta controlled it so well that he could scrape the bottom of the zone with it. So, swing or not, he was going to make it a strike. Pretty soon batters didn’t have a choice, they had to try and hit it. That’s when Arrieta made hitters look foolish.

His slider also seems to be missing some of its bite. Whether this is a mechanical issue, or whether he’s dealing with some sort of minor injury, I don’t know. But the Cubs desperately need him to get the ball rolling again. He’s the most important pitcher in the rotation.

It got to a point last season where I felt confident that the Cubs would not only win on Jake Arrieta day but do so giving up no more than a single run. Obviously, that’s too much to expect out of anyone, but four runs in five innings pitched just isn’t going to cut it. Not if the Cubs want to make a serious run in October.

Arrieta opted not to pitch in the All-Star game, and he won’t be making his first start of the second half until the 19th. With extended rest, Arrieta should be fresh and ready to reclaim his reputation as the best pitcher in baseball.

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