Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jake arrieta cubs roadThree runs before he’d recorded an out. Four earned runs in just five innings. Velocity down. Spots missed. Loss.

It was a bad night for Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs, and …

Er. Well. Was it really that bad for Arrieta?

Let me be crystal clear in saying that the results, as noted in the first paragraph, were not good, and Arrieta did not look like his typically sharp self. There can be no question on those items.

But consider some things: although Arrieta went just five innings last night, he also allowed only four hits and two walks (one intentional) while striking out eight. When granularized like that, it looks much better.

Further, when you look at the runs, individually, you’ve got a two-run homer by Daniel Murphy that appeared to be one of the flukiest homers of the year (more on that in a moment), a legit David Wright double that scored Curtis Granderson, who’d reached because his ball somehow snuck through the shift, and a Yoenis Cespedes dribbler to shortstop that scored Granderson a second time. Arrieta was not getting knocked around.

And the velocity? Yes, it was down about 1.5 to 2.0 mph from his last few starts – it’s been on a bit of a downward trend, which is unsurprising given that it’s the end of a very long, laborious year for him – but, as this FanGraphs piece notes, the cold temperature likely sapped some of that velocity, and fluctuations are not uncommon.

Is Arrieta wearing down, as evidenced by his last two starts, neither of which was as dominated as his second half in the regular season? Yeah, maybe. But maybe not. In a world of small samples, it could be that Arrieta happened not to have his pristine command in two consecutive starts, and, further, some sequencing bit him a bit. That the two starts happened to come at the end of the year in the playoffs muddies the waters a bit. Maybe there’s something there. Maybe it’s just normal regression for a guy who was in a stretch of among the best pitching of all-time.

At the end of this exercise, though, I do find it interesting to see that, even in a “bad” Arrieta start, you can make an argument that he really wasn’t that bad at all.

In closing, the Murphy homer really was a freak thing that basically never, ever happens (but it did!):

You can watch it again if you’re a total masochist:

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