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jake arrieta cool catAlthough we’ve been tracking Jake Arrieta’s success – not just in results, but in how he has looked – for weeks now, the rest of the baseball world is catching on fast. Arrieta’s unbelievable performance last night certainly helped, especially given that it happened in Boston against the Red Sox, one of two centers of the national baseball universe.

Not that I’m going to criticize. Arrieta deserves every bit of praise he’s getting, and then some. He put in the work – with some help from the Cubs’ coaching staff – to refine his mechanics and polish his slider/cutter (slutter). It shows, and I’m pretty ecstatic both for Arrieta, and for the Cubs for seeing something in him last year. Everybody wins.*

So, let’s take some time to relish in Arrieta’s fantastic season and meteoric rise in national prominence …

  • Jeff Sullivan writes about Arrieta’s night against the Red Sox within the context of his “worst eight pitches” (which turn out to be not all that bad), but the entire piece is more like a celebration of what Arrieta’s done this year. As Sullivan puts it, “So what does that mean? This year, 157 starters have thrown at least 50 innings. Arrieta ranks: Fourth in strikeout rate; Sixth in K% – BB%; First in ERA-; Second in FIP-; Sixth in xFIP-.”
  • Given the numbers, is Arrieta an All-Star? Well, the 64.2 innings will hold him back, and probably even preclude his selection (most full-time starters at this point have at least 50% more innings). Those numbers, though … 1.81 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 2.48 xFIP, 2.4 WAR, 1.01 WHIP, 4.63 K/BB, 29.0% K rate, 6.3% BB rate. Yeesh. Be still my beating heart.
  • Arrieta’s outing in Boston, by the way, was his fifth straight super-duper dominant outing (judging both by eyeballing the stats and by win probability added). That doesn’t happen by luck.
  • Rob Neyer articulates the national thinking on Arrieta’s emergence: does this change what we’re thinking about the Cubs for 2015? It’s an open question, and there are many months left between now and November. For me, as stoked as I am about Arrieta, and as much as I think the signals indicate he can be, at a minimum, a solid three going into 2015, I don’t think you can let one player – especially a pitcher – change your thinking. That said, I always thought the Cubs could and should plan to turn the corner in 2015, so, if what folks are saying about Arrieta comports with that, then fine by me. The Cubs are going to need to add a quality arm from outside the organization either way. It’s just that, maybe now, they decide to add only one top arm externally instead of two. That’s all I’m saying.
  • A scout told Ken Rosenthal before last night’s start that he thought Arrieta was the best pitcher on the Cubs’ staff. I think it’s a reasonable debate, which is incredible, given how good Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have been this year. But Arrieta’s been better.
  • A great read out of Boston on Arrieta’s night and his emergence for the Cubs.
  • The recap of the game at Cubs.com has a lot of the rah-rah quotes you’d expect to see after a start like that, but they sound great to me.
  • Carrie Muskat collects some of the “most since X,” “longest since Y” type stats about Arrieta and his performance last night. Very fun stuff.
  • A fun look back at Spring Training, when Arrieta went down with his shoulder issue:

Regardless of the severity, even the hiccup is a bummer, particularly with respect to Arrieta. As a guy with a huge ceiling – but who just hadn’t been able to harness and maximize the stuff in Baltimore – Arrieta has been someone to dream on for 2014. If he finally breaks out, the Cubs will have just discovered a key rotation piece for the next four or five years. That was never the most likely scenario, but it was a reasonable possibility. Hopefully this shoulder issue is truly minor, and that scenario stays on the table.

  • If anything, I undersold it.

*(Except the Orioles. Sorry, dudes.)

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