Last night, Jake Arrieta threw seven innings, allowing just one run (unearned), two hits, and one walk, and he struck out 10. Perhaps the best compliment I can give to Arrieta’s season is that his dominant final outing – against a team trying to win a division, mind you – really wasn’t that much better than his overall season numbers.
We’ll get to that.
First, a look at Arrieta’s great night. So many strikeouts, so much stuff:
Arrieta closes out the 2014 season like this:
- 2.53 ERA over 156.2 innings. That’s the 8th best ERA in baseball.
- Arrieta’s 2.25 FIP is the second best in baseball, 13 points ahead of the next guy (Corey Kluber), and 32 points ahead of the next guy after that (Chris Sale). Arrieta’s mark is behind only some guy named Clayton Kershaw (1.80, because he’s not human).
- Arrieta’s 2.72 xFIP is behind only Kershaw, Kluber, Felix Hernandez, and Stephen Strasburg.
- Despite the limited innings, Arrieta accumulated 4.9 WAR, the 10th highest mark among pitchers. In the NL, once again, he’s behind only Kershaw. Arrieta should get far more down-the-ballot Cy Young votes than he actually will get.
- Speaking of the limited innings, it’s pretty amazing to see what Arrieta has accomplished when he started the season on the shelf for more than a month. He dealt with a mild shoulder issue in Spring Training, had to build back up his arm, was clearly still getting himself ready in his first few starts, and still turned in one of the best seasons by any pitcher in baseball.
- The numbers, by the way, merely re-tell the story that your eyes told you all year long: this guy has pitched like an ace. He is poised and confident. He gives the Cubs a chance to win virtually every time he takes the mound. His stuff is eye-popping. He has good velocity. He has excellent command. There was absolutely no disconnect between Arrieta’s results and his performance. He earned every bit of how well things turned out.
Arrieta, who will turn 29 in March, will head into the offseason approaching his first trip through arbitration in 2015. The Cubs will have control on Arrieta for two more years after that, so, even if an extension is not in the cards, the Cubs won’t be losing their ace any time soon. That’s a comforting thought, particularly as the team looks right on the cusp of something special.