Thursday night, April 21, 2016, the 2015 National League Cy Young Winner Jake Arrieta pitched his second career no-hitter. Both have been within the last year and both occurred after Arrieta was traded in 2013, to the recently reinvented Northside. Thanks to baseball gurus Theo Epstein and Joe Madden, the Chicago Cubs have created a colossal transformation for the franchise and for the city.
Arrieta has shown flashes of the Cy Young potential he possessed back in Baltimore, at times. However, more often than not, the pitcher struggled with his command and consistency during his starts. Orioles Manager Buck Showalter even had Arrieta sent back to the bullpen during the 2012 season, which turned out to be his worst statistical season since entering the league in 2010.
Showalter and the Orioles gave the TCU graduate one last chance in 2013, but again Arrieta failed to meet the high expectations; putting up a 7.23 ERA in five starts with the team before being traded away to the Cubbies (along with the hard-tossing reliever Pedro Strop) for Cub’s pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevinger.
It did not take long for Arrieta to get acclimated to the change of uniform, finding new confidence and consistency with the aid of Cub’s pitching coach Chris Bosio. The relationship between the two transformed the pitcher right away and became evident to all. Arrieta, who began the season 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA, finished his last nine starts with a 4-2 record and a 3.66 ERA.
And just like that, the team struck gold. The Cub’s new ace finally found a formula that combined the elite talent along with the consistency Arietta lacked in the past. The 2014 season, his first full year with the team, not only picked up exactly where he and Bosio left off in 2013, but took the pitcher’s talent to a whole new level, putting up the best numbers of his career, in nearly every category including ERA, Wins, Innings Pitched, Games Started, Strike Outs, WHIP, et cetera.
One thing Arrietta has in common with his new ballclub is that every year he improves. 2015, would be the year he pitched his first career no-hitter against the heavy-hitting Los Angeles Dodgers. It was also the year that he statistically shattered his career best, in every category, most of which were set from the year before. Meanwhile, Arrieta was also crushing his competition every time he stepped on the mound, winning twenty-two games and leading his team to the playoffs for the first time since Lou Pinella was the coach. With a season like he had in 2015, it was no surprise to anybody in the baseball world that the he captured the National League Cy Young Award from the 2008 winner, Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.
Right around the time when baseball fans across the country, including the analyst working for ESPN and the MLB Network, thought Arrieta could not out-perform himself, yet again, the Chicago Cub’s ace has proven to the world that he can. The 30-year-old megastar, who has become so popular he now has his own line of underwear, is just entering his prime.
Throwing the first no-hitter of the 2016 Major League season is proof of that. So is the fact that after that Thursday night’s no-hit performance against the Cincinnati Reds, the Cubs ace has improved his record to 6-0 in his first six starts, his ERA is down to 0.84.
After his last outing against the Pitsburg Pirates, where he went seven innings only allowing two hits, no runs, and struck out five batters. Making that seventeen straight outings that the Cubs have won with Arrieta on the mound, dating back to last season. Historically, numbers like Arrieta’s are a pretty good indication that last year’s Cy Young was far from a fluke and that the still young pitcher may just be getting started.
By T. Aaron DeGeorge
Edited by Jeanette Smith
MLB: Jake Arrieta’s Statistics
Yahoo: Why Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter was so special for the Cubs
Chicago Tribune: Jake Arrieta throws second no-hitter of career in 16-0 rout of reds
Image Courtesy of Al Case’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License