Stepping up in the big moments
During his Cubs career, Jake Arrieta has always embraced the challenging moments. In 2015, he pitched Chicago past the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game, twirling a masterful shutout. Last season, he stepped up in the World Series, delivering several quality outings against the Indians.
Needless to say, there’s no fear in the right-hander.
Still, in 2017, the ‘big’ moments where pressure mounts have gotten to Arrieta. Opponents are winning these battles far more than in the past. According to Baseball Reference, hitters are coming out on top in both high and medium-leverage situations.
In high-leverage showdowns, batters are hitting .350/.391/.550 against Arrieta. In medium-leverage matchups, he’s been a bit more effective, but still struggled at .329/.373/.443. Those numbers really pop when you take into account how good he’s been in low-leverage at-bats, limiting opponents to a .231/.292/.492 slash-line this season.
Missing more bats
Simply put, he’s not missing bats like he has in the past. His strikeout-to-walk ratio in high-leverage situations is an even 1.00. Compare that to his low-leverage mark of 3.50 S0/BB.
With runners in scoring position, he seems to always be one good pitch away from working out of a jam. Opponents are white-hot this year against Arrieta in these situations, batting .462/.511/.692. By contrast, when the bases are empty, he’s held batters to a cool .222/.278/.433 line.
Being the guy in tense situations is what made Jake Arrieta into the best pitcher in the National League as recently as last spring. Getting back to that will set him up for his much-sought payday at the end of the season.