It wasn’t a no-hitter, but, as I said while watching the game last night, it was clear Jake Arrieta was doing something special. On instinct, I called it one of the most dominant outings in baseball this year, and BN’er Josh quickly pointed to ESPN’s game scores to confirm: Arrieta’s 97 last night falls behind only a Madison Bumgarner one-hitter against the Rockies back in August, and Clayton Kershaw’s obscene, 15-strikeout no-hitter of the same Rockies in June.
Arrieta’s night, then, was better than Josh Beckett’s no-hitter. Better than Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter. It was better even than the last Cubs no-hitter, by Carlos Zambrano in 2008 (that crazy game against the Astros, played in Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike), which had a game score of 96 (Zambrano walked one and struck out 10). It was tied for the best Cubs pitching performance since The Kerry Wood Game in 1998 (pretty much the best pitching performance of all-time). The other 97 came all the way back in 2001, again courtesy of Kerry Wood, who struck out 14 Brewers in a one-hitter.
In other words, Arrieta’s game last night was among the best few Cubs pitching performances in decades.
Some more fun with the night …
- Arrieta’s shutout performance wasn’t just the Cubs’ first complete game shutout of the year, it was the first complete game, period. On the night, Arrieta allowed one hit, walked one, and struck out 13. And he looked every bit that good.
- Despite having accumulated more than 140 innings before the start, it was still strong enough to move the needle on his season numbers. Arrieta’s ERA dropped from 2.82 to 2.65. His FIP dropped from 2.41 to 2.30. His xFIP dropped from 2.87 to 2.79. He even bumped up his strikeout rate from 25.7% to 26.7%.
- Arrieta’s WAR, in one start, increased from 4.1 to 4.6. Wrap your head around that: by the time the season ends, in WELL under 200 innings, Arrieta is likely to be a five-win pitcher.
- Arrieta’s ERA is now 11th best in baseball, but the advanced metrics say he’s been even better: by FIP, he’s better than every pitcher in baseball not named Kershaw.
- And the quote, per Patrick Mooney, from Arrieta on being labeled the Cubs’ ace going forward: “It’s not going to frighten me, if that’s what you’re wondering. I’ve overcome a lot of things in my career and started to establish myself and put myself in a position like this. That’s kind of the territory that I’m in, and I welcome it.” I don’t even need to fist bump Arrieta anymore. I just want to stand next to him and feel the reflected baddassery.