Chicago Cubs Rumors: Darvish’s performance shows Arrieta is worth it

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26: Jake Arrieta
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 26: Jake Arrieta /

The Chicago Cubs will be in the market for a starting pitcher. Either by trade or free agency, the Cubs will need to find the best man available. Yu Darvish helped to prove one thing. The best man is Jake Arrieta.

The Chicago Cubs entered this season with the expectation that they’d be losing two-thirds of their rotation. They went and added Jose Quintana at the deadline, although at a hefty price of prospects. But he does give them a quality arm under control for next season with a team option for the 2019 season. John Lackey could ride off into the sunset, while Jake Arrieta is going to command a large chunk of change. But the performance of Yu Darvish in the playoffs showed the Cubs that Arrieta is worth every penny.

Before the Cubs acquired Quintana, Darvish was on their radar. But in two of his final five starts with the Texas Rangers, Darvish allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings and 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings. That took his value down a bit, and the Cubs weren’t willing to bite. They already had Quintana, and adding Darvish might have taken them over the top–at a cost, of course.

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Yu the man

The Dodgers decided he was worth the status as a rental and believed that he could be the turning point. The Dodgers also added Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani and felt confident about their chances in the NL West. Darvish would prove them right in his first two starts after coming over to the National League.

Darvish tossed a seven-inning shutout against the Mets while striking out 10 in his first outing. He followed that with a five-inning, two-run performance while again striking out 10. The rich were getting richer, as it seemed. For Arrieta, he appeared to be pitching his way into a more prominent free agent deal when the unexpected occurred.

Panic hits the mound

What Arrieta thought was a cramp turned out to be Grade 1 hamstring strain. He made two starts before the season ended, but didn’t look anything like the pitcher he had been since July 1. In that span, Arrieta was 7-3 with a 2.01 ERA. He was allowing a BA of .191 with a BAbip of .223. But Arrieta was made for October, Darvish was apparently not.

While Arrieta was pitching for his free agent money, he didn’t disappoint. In his final appearance in 2017, he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out nine. It was the Cubs only victory against the Dodgers in the NLCS. Darvish probably thought it was easy. The Cubs managed just one run on six hits. But the Houston Astros would be a different story.

Darvish started two games in the World Series. He failed to make it out of the second inning in either start. He allowed four runs in each outing and struck out ZERO in either start. If you’re not a numbers guy, that translates into a 21.60 ERA, while allowing a WHIP of 3.30. Just remember, this is one of the guys Arrieta will be going toe-to-toe with in free agency.

Still time to dominate

Arrieta will turn 32 as the season gets underway. He pitched to a 14-10 record this season but posted a 3.53 ERA. In mid-May, he was carrying a 5.44 ERA. Arrieta recovered and was one of their best pitchers down the stretch. And to top that off, he once again delivered in a game that would have sent the Cubs home. It was just one day, but he showed that the big stage doesn’t intimidate him.

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MLBTR made some predictions on the free agent season. To the Cubs? Darvish at six-years, $160 MM. And what about Arrieta? Four-years, $100 MM to the Brewers. I’m no whizkid here, but I don’t think I want Darvish and his lackluster postseason effort for six years. The Cubs have a window, and they expect to be there each year. Arrieta is worth the four-years. It’s a gamble no matter who you sign as a pitcher. For the Cubs, this should be a no-brainer.

They know Arrieta’s work ethic. They know his history. And they’ve seen him do it on the field. I feel as if people take him for granted and expect the Cubs to find the next “hidden gem” somewhere out there. In this FA pool, there is no replacement for Arrieta. If the Cubs look to trade, that’s a different story. But if the Cubs are going to sign someone, it needs to be Jake. Hands down, he the best available–and I think the Cubs already know that.