Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jake arrieta beard featureJake Arrieta has posted some sterling numbers against the Cardinals in his career. Put aside the 4-1 record, and note a 1.63 ERA, 1.048 WHIP, 60 strikeouts and 19 walks in 55 innings over nine career starts.

Four of those starts have come in 2015. The results are as follows:

April 8 at Wrigley Field: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 104 pitches (Dec.: Win)

A weather-related postponement delayed Arrieta’s season debut, but it was worth the wait, as the Cubs earned a two-game split in the season-opening series behind Arrieta’s strong start in a 2-0 win. He worked around three relative scoring threats, overcoming a pair of first-inning walks, two third-inning singles and a two-out walk and double in the sixth en route to preserving a scoreless tie at that point and notching the first of his 29 quality starts this season. However, it was a rare start where Arrieta allowed more balls in the air (10) than on the ground (7) as he took advantage of a 46-degree game-time temperature and winds blowing in from center field at 6 m.p.h.

May 7 at Busch Stadium: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 7 K, 106 pitches (Dec.: Loss)

With the Cubs looking to salvage a four-game split in St. Louis, Arrieta struggled on getaway day. The nine hits were the most he has allowed this season and the 5.1 innings pitched represent one of only three times in which he didn’t complete at least six innings, while his Bill James Game Score of 38 was his lowest of the season. Arrieta’s start on this date was arguably the low-point of his season. Jason Heyward — who was batting sixth at the time — tagged him for three hits, a stolen base and three runs, while John Lackey and Peter Bourjos each knocked Arrieta for an extra-base hit. Lackey’s hit was a two-out RBI double that came after Bourjos was intentionally walked. The first four hitters in the Cardinals order went 3-for-12 with no runs scored, no runs batted in and four strikeouts (no walks) against Arrieta and three Cubs relievers. Meanwhile, the five-through-nine spots were 7-for-17 with five runs scored.

June 26 at Busch Stadium: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 102 pitches (No dec.)

“Of all people…Greg Garcia ties it.”

Arrieta’s performance against the Cardinals in this one gets overlooked, in part, because pinch-hitter Greg Garcia deposited a 3-1 pitch from Pedro Strop into the center field bleachers to tie the game at two in the eighth. The Cubs would go on to lose 3-2 in extras and would be swept in the three-game set. Arrieta was a strike-throwing machine, firing 69 strikes and whiffing seven batters in the process. In fact, of the 21 batters Arrieta retired, 17 were set down via strikeout or ground ball out. He ended the night retiring 16 of the last 17 batters he faced.

July 7 at Wrigley Field: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 103 pitches (Dec.: Win)

Arrieta’s pitching performance set the tone for a doubleheader sweep of the Cardinals on this day. It wasn’t his best outing, but he was efficient enough to record a quality start as he pitched six scoreless innings before allowing a pair of runs in the seventh. The runs came after two outs when a Peter Bourjous double plated Jhonny Peralta (who led off the inning with a walk) and Xavier Scruggs singled in Bourjos to cut the Cubs lead to 3-2. The damage was limited to that as James Russell struck out Matt Carpenter looking to end the innings, stranding Scruggs. Arrieta also contributed with the bat, going 2-for-3 with a run scored on a bases loaded walk and in limiting the Cardinals running game by picking off Tommy Pham in the first.

Upon further review:

  • All-Star third baseman Matt Carpenter is 0-for-5 against Arrieta this season. In fact, Carpenter hasn’t reached base against Arrieta since his first plate appearance of the season against the Cubs right-hander, in which he coaxed a lead-off walk. Overall, Carpenter is 0-for-16 in 21 plate appearances with five walks to his credit. He did not start for the Cardinals in the team’s May 7 win or July 7 loss.
  • Jason Heyward (4-for-12), Kolten Wong (3-for-12) and Jon Jay (2-for-9) are the only Cardinals with multiple hits against Arrieta this season. Heyward could be the biggest threat to Arrieta in the Cardinals line-up with his bat control and base-running abilities. Base stealers were successful against Arrieta 27 times in 33 attempts (81.8%).
  • Arrieta displayed swing-and-miss off-speed offerings in four starts against the Cardinals, as the change-up and curveball kept Cardinals hitters off balance. The curveball generated 11 whiffs in 59 uses (18.6%), while the change-up was thrown 28 times and netted five whiffs (17.8%).
  • In his June 26 start, Arrieta induced a 70.6 percent ground ball rate, which was the seventh highest GB% for him this season. In four starts against the Cardinals, Arrieta recorded a 51.4 GB%. After posting a 35.3 percent fly ball rate in his first start in the Cardinals, Arrieta’s FB% in the three starts that followed was 22.0%. That could be very useful today, as the wind is projected to be blowing out.

  • Despite Arrieta’s quality numbers against the Cardinals, he did not face them once during his second-half run of excellence. Since the last time the Cardinals saw Arrieta, he has gone 13-1 (Cubs are 15-1 in those starts) with a 0.77 ERA/1.93 FIP/2.33 xFIP, 63.2 GB%, 87.3 LOB%, 123 strikeouts (28.5 K%) and 23 walks (5.4 BB%).

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