Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: The curious case of Jake Arrieta

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 02: Jake Arrieta
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 02: Jake Arrieta /
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CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 06: Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 06: Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta /

Arrieta’s timing could not have been worse

Entering the 2017 season, reports surfaced that Arrieta wanted a $200 million contract this off-season. This type of money would force teams to offer Arrieta at least a six or seven-year contract that would take the star pitcher close to 40 (Arrieta is currently 31).

Now, it would seem a deal anywhere close to $200 million is out of the question. In 17 starts this season, Arrieta owns a 4.33 ERA. While Arrieta is still striking out 9.3 batters per nine innings, his home runs allowed per nine is triple of what it was two years ago.

Looking deeper into Arrieta’s numbers, one can see trends unbecoming of a $200 million pitcher. According to FanGraphs, Arrieta’s line drive and fly ball rate is up from a year ago, while his ground ball rate is at its lowest point since the right-hander joined the Cubs. Moreover, Arrieta’s hard contact rate has risen each year since his Cy Young season.

A drop-off in Arrieta’s performance could not have happened at a worse time for the 31-year-old. Arrieta is on the wrong side of 30 and facing free agency after the 2017 season. While the Cubs will no doubt need all the pitching they can get, Arrieta does not seem like an option for the Cubs moving forward. This means another team will have to take a “chance” on an aging pitcher with an unorthodox delivery.