Cubs welcome back a very different-looking Jake Arrieta

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports /

If you’re expecting Jake Arrieta to flirt with 20 strikeouts in a game or toss his third no-hitter in a Chicago Cubs uniform this season, odds are you’re going to wind up disappointed.

The bearded right-hander made his first start of the spring on Sunday, showcasing a very different arsenal than the one he boasted a half-decade ago during his first stint with the club. Still, the results spoke for themselves: two scoreless innings in which he allowed just one base hit.

"“I was looking forward to my first outing for a while,” Arrieta told “Getting out there today in that environment, on the road and against another team, starting off with two guys on base, no outs and being able to get the job done, these are all situations that are going to arise during the season. So, it’s nice to get them out of the way.”"

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The Diamondbacks opened the first with a single and then drew a walk, but the 35-year-old settled in and set down the next six batters he faced in quick order. At the end of the day, results are what matter – and Arrieta got the job done on Sunday.

He, like pretty much every starter in this rotation mix, definitely profiles as more of a pitch-to-contact presence at this point in his career. His once overpowering sinker now sits in the low 90s and, despite his success in keeping Arizona off the board, the veteran hurler did not record a strikeout.

Cubs: Jake Arrieta looks to beat the odds

Earlier this spring, I delved into what the projections have to say about Arrieta. In short, they’re not loving his chances at turning his career around back in Chicago.

But one of the game’s fiercest competitors, quite frankly, doesn’t care what the projections or the media have to say. After three sub-par campaigns in Philadelphia, Arrieta is looking to re-invent himself, surrounded by familiar faces and an organization he loves.

That means mechanical changes that should remedy some of his ineffectiveness from his days with the Phillies and accepting that he won’t miss bats like he once did. There’s a big difference between trying to run an upper-90s fastball past someone and attempting to do the same with something in the low-90s. Arrieta is smart enough to understand that and you can bet his game plan will reflect this.

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So far, so good for Arrieta and the Cubs. It was a different look and feel from the bearded right-hander, but it still felt good to see him back in Cubbie blue on the mound.