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 Cubs
WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 27: Jake Arrieta /

Is 2017 a fluke or a sign of something more?

With his success the last two seasons, Arrieta has established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Even though Arrieta is not displaying many signs of that this season, Cubs fans have been able to catch a glimpse or two of vintage Jake.

On Sunday, Arrieta looked like his old self once again. In seven innings against the Reds, Arrieta allowed just one hit and struck out six.

As noted above, Arrieta’s ground-ball rate has dropped significantly this season. Despite this, on Sunday Arrieta induced 11 ground balls compared to just five fly balls.

While Sunday’s game allowed us a glimpse of the old Jake, too many of Arrieta’s starts this season have ended badly. For example, look at Arrieta’s start prior to his masterpiece on Sunday. On June 27 against the Nationals, Arrieta lasted only four innings and surrendered six runs (five earned) on six hits. That, however, was not the worst part of the outing. Of the 24 batters Arrieta faced, he walked six of them.

Perhaps, Arrieta’s workload is starting to catch up with him. In 2015, Arrieta recorded 229 regular season innings and another 19 2/3 postseason innings. A year later, Arrieta totaled 219 2/3 innings between the regular and post season. That high volume of innings could no doubt have an impact on Arrieta, especially since he had not recorded more than 119 1/3 innings in a season before joining the Cubs.

Arrieta’s payday will still be large

Even with his struggles this season, Arrieta is still on track to get a huge contract this off-season. Most teams will not let one bad season ruin two or three great seasons. With that being said, do not expect Arrieta to get a $200 million deal this winter. For a team like the Yankees or Orioles who need starting pitching, Arrieta seems like a good option.

The deep pockets of the Yankees may drive the price of Arrieta’s services up, but do not expect the former Cy Young to get more than a $150 million deal. Spotrac is projecting a five-year deal worth north of $140 million for Arrieta. That would put Arrieta’s annual salary close to $29 million.