Cubs Right-hander Now At Dominating Best
By John Ventola
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched the first no-hitter of the 2016 major league season Thursday. The shutout of Cincinnati in a 16-0 blowout was Arrieta’s second no-hitter in his last eleven regular season starts, continuing one of the most dominant pitching streaks in baseball history.
Over his last twenty-four regular season starts, Arrieta has compiled an unbelievable
20-1 record, 0.86 earned run average (ERA), while throwing 178 innings during that stretch. He has only given up 91 hits in those games, striking out 173 while walking only 33.
Last season, Arrieta posted an ERA of 0.75 over the last half of the year, the lowest ERA for a half season since the statistic was made a part of baseball records in 1913. He gave up only nine earned runs over 107-1/3 innings after the 2015 All-Star game.
The 6-4 Texan seems to have put everything together pitching-wise over the last fourteen months. He throws five pitches, a two-seam fastball, sinker, slider/cutter, curveball, and changeup. While there are many big league pitchers that showcase more velocity, (he throws his fastball consistently in the 95 mph range), Arrieta masterfully uses his full repertoire, and locates his pitches well. His pitches are all thrown with crispness and movement.
Many of his outs come via ground balls. He moves his pitches in and out, and often gets ahead of batters with swinging strikes. Arrieta currently has a firm grip on what it takes to be super successful on the mound. But it was not always that way.
As a former high school and college pitcher (all right, it was before the aluminum bat era), I have studied pitching mechanics, and other factors that lead to success on the
hill. That 17-inch plate can be elusive, particularly when it is being worked/guarded by productive hitters. Proper mechanics are mandatory, but God-given arm strength, and the good luck to avoid elbow, shoulder woes are also important.
Coaches, and ultimately, professional scouts love tall, lanky, pitchers with “stuff”. Problem is, most high school and college pitchers are “throwers”, and they have not learned how to pitch, how to work a hitter, how to mix pitches, and locations. Those that learn, like Arrieta, stay in the big leagues. Those that do not, return to their hometowns to start new careers.
Arrieta’s “hot streak” shows he has matured as a pitcher. He always had ability, now he has taken it to a different level. He pitched for Weatherford Junior College (Texas) as a freshman before transferring to TCU. There he led the nation in NCAA Division I wins during his sophomore season, winning fourteen games in nineteen appearances for the Horned Frogs. Arrieta was drafted after his junior season by Baltimore, the fifth round selection of the Orioles in 2007.
After two seasons of minor league seasoning (he signed late in the summer of 2007), Arrieta enjoyed only mediocre success after joining the Orioles in 2010 (going 20-25
before trade to Cubs midway of 2013 season). He finished the 2013 season with the Cubs, compiling a 4-2 record over the last three months. His 10-5 season in 2014 was solid (2.53 ERA), but it did not give a clear indication on what was to come—the Cy Young Award winning 2015 season, and a 22-6 ledger, 1.77 ERA.
Following the regular season, Arrieta pitched a shutout in the National League Wild Card game, blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won another game against St. Louis in the National League Division series despite only going 5-2/3 innings and giving up five hits and four earned runs. His last 2015 outing resulted in a loss and he was tagged for four hits and four earned runs in five innings. Although he was not his usual self (earned runs) in those last two games, he struck out 17 and walked only one during those 10-2/3 innings.
So far this season Arrieta is 4-0 in his starts, continuing where he left off last regular season. He has thrown 31 innings, given up fifteen hits, while striking out 26 and walking six. He has given up only three earned runs (0.87 ERA).
What makes it click all of a sudden for a professional pitcher? Sandy Koufax struggled with his control before harnessing his fastball and dominating baseball in the early ‘60s. Another left-hander, Ron Guidry, put it all together for an unbelievable 25-3
season and 1.74 ERA in 1978. While those two lefties and current southpaw Clayton Kershaw have had great seasons, only Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA (22-9 record for World Champion St. Louis in 1968) can rival Arrieta’s dominance over his last 24 regular season starts.
Personally it has been a pleasure to watch Arrieta ply his trade with such dominance. My appreciation of what it takes to get major league hitters out easily, and consistently, has never waned.
The superlatives will continue as long as Arrieta maintains, or comes close to maintaining, his current level of productivity. I, for one, will be tuned in to see if it will continue.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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