Chicago Cubs: Jake Arrieta shines in possible swan song

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 18: Jake Arrieta /

The Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta spent what could be his last season in Chicago battling the naysayers. As he started off horribly, people felt his best days were behind him. But his finish shows that he still has plenty left in the tank.

C+. . SP. Chicago Cubs. JAKE ARRIETA

When the 2017 season started, many Chicago Cubs’ fans assumed this would be the last for Jake Arrieta. After three successful years with the Cubs which included the 2015 NL Cy Young Award, it appeared that the run was coming to an end. That remains to be seen. But if this was the last we see of Arrieta in Chicago, it’s been a heck of a run that this man has given us.

Arrieta came to the Cubs in 2013 with Pedro Strop in a deal that saw  Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger head to Baltimore. At that time, Feldman was the one having success. Arrieta and Strop were power arms, and the Cubs hoped they could benefit from a change in scenery. I’d say that was a fairly accurate assumption of what was to come.

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Trying to finish strong

2015 saw Arrieta win the Cy Young with a second half for the ages. He finished with a 22-6 record and a 1.77 ERA. He followed that up with an 18-8 record and a 3.10 ERA in the Cubs World Series-winning season. Entering what was potentially his final year with the Cubs, Arrieta was looking to put up a solid year and solidify himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Things didn’t go quite as he had hoped for.

In his first couple of starts for the year, Arrieta looked good to start the season. But on May 14, he had been beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals allowing four runs over six innings. The start before in Colorado he allowed nine runs in 3 2/3 as he watched his ERA climb to a whopping 5.44. These were numbers he hadn’t seen since his days in Baltimore. Was Arrieta just a flash in the pan, and was time already starting to take its toll on him?

Is he finished?

That was the consensus among Cubs’ fans, and the Cubs should start looking at other potential pitchers for 2018. But once Arrieta hit July, it seemed he had rediscovered the pitcher that he was in previous years. And while Arrieta’s finish was strong, including what could have been his last as a Cub (6 2/3 innngs, one run on three hits and four strikeouts), it’s hard to be really excited about what we got out of his final ear of his contract.

Not what he once was, but still our ‘Jake’

He finished with a 14-10 record and a 3.53 ERA. Almost a two run drop from what he had in May. But control issues are what he battled all season, as he walked 55 in 168 1/3 innings. While he would occasionally look like the dominant pitcher from the previous few seasons–it was a rare occurrence.

While outside of Kyle Hendricks, Arrieta was the most reliable starter on the staff. But it was still a disappointing season, especially if you asked Arrieta. Now with Chris Bosio out in Chicago, that may have been the last link between the Cubs and him that they could shoot for. But the Cubs may have already known that.

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If this was the last year for Jake in Chicago, he capped off a memorable run with the Cubs with a fantastic finish. He helped the Cubs win their only game of the NLCS. It will be a weird thing to him in another uniform. But that’s part of baseball. It’s simply a part of the game that we have to get used to.