Jake Arrieta had a masterful season in which he owned the second best ERA (1.77), FIP (2.35) and fWAR (7.3) in all of baseball. So, his numbers against the Pirates shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has followed his Cy Young-caliber season.
And yet, the numbers still find a way to open eyes. So let’s run some things down …
- Arrieta has made five starts against the Pirates this season, in which time opposing hitters have slashed .151/.192/.176 in 125 plate appearances. He has allowed just 18 hits, 15 of which have been singles.
- Andrew McCutchen has had the most success against Arrieta, with 8 hits in 23 career at-bats (.348 average).
- However, the rest of the Pirates’ non-pitchers are 21-for-137, hitting .153. That includes some pretty good hitters such as Starling Marte (4-for-17, .235), Gregory Polanco (3-for-16, .188), Neil Walker (4-for-25, .160) and Francisco Cervelli (2-for-13, .154).
- In the times Pirates batters have reached base this season, they haven’t been very successful in crossing the plate, as Arrieta has stranded 83.3 percent of Pirates base runners.
- Arrieta has had full control of the strike zone against the Pirates with a 4.0 percent walk rate, 26.4 percent strikeout rate and 6.6-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in those five starts.
- When the Pirates have put the ball in play, they have hit an overwhelming amount of ground balls. Arrieta owned a 56.2 percent ground ball rate this season, which was the fifth highest in baseball. Against the Pirates, that number sees a slight increase to 59.7 percent.
- In case you’re wondering, the Pirates’ 46.7 percent ground ball rate is the fifth highest in baseball. So, it is safe to suggest we’ll see a lot of grounders if Arrieta has his good stuff working in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
- Arrieta’s pitch mix has kept batters off balance all year, and the Pirates are no exception. BrooksBaseball.net has pitch data for four of Arrieta’s five starts against Pittsburgh, but the sample still provides enough to draw conclusions. And as you might expect, it is as filthy against the Pirates as it is against any team he has faced this season.
- The sinker/two-seamer has been Arrieta’s most thrown pitch, per BrooksBaseball.net’s data, having been thrown 177 times, while the slider checks in second with 131 uses.
- Arrieta’s slider has produced 28 whiffs (21.4 percent swing and miss rate), making it his most effective swing-and-miss pitch. But his change-up has been somewhat of a secret weapon. It hasn’t been used all that often against Pittsburgh (19 times), but it has produced whiffs in 36.8 percent of the times it has been thrown (7 whiffs).
- You can browse Arrieta’s full data set here and see how effective his pitch mix has been in 2015.
- Of course, past data doesn’t predict future performance. And anything can happen in a one-game scenario. Still, it might be nice to know the Cubs aren’t pinning their future postseason hopes on someone with no track record against the team they are facing.