Happy Friday morning, my friends!
Thanks to a thoughtful video tweet from the Iowa Cubs – which we’ll get to in a moment – I was prompted to share highlights from Jake Arrieta’s two no-hitters, first against the Dodgers in 2015:
I love how Arrieta struck out the side in the 9th inning with some of his nastiest stuff in the entire game. Having lost a few near-no-hitters already in his career, he was like, nah, I’m just gonna handle this myself.
And then he did it again, this time against the Reds just last year:
I was fortunate enough to be at that game, recording some video of the day, and having no idea what I was about to see:
Those two no-hitters popped into my head because of this Iowa Cubs tweet, featuring video of Arrieta pitching with the Cubs’ AAA-affiliate not that long ago:
— Iowa Cubs (@IowaCubs) February 8, 2017
It may well be hard to remember now, but, after he was acquired by the Cubs from the Orioles in July 2013, Arrieta did not immediately join the team’s rotation, instead heading to AAA Iowa to begin his work in a new organization. As you can see in the video, the crossfire delivery that the Orioles had tried to force him to ditch is present, and it’s working for him.
In all, Arrieta, then 27, made seven starts with Iowa, totaling 30.1 innings. He posted a 3.56 ERA and a 3.64 FIP, perfectly respectable numbers. But it’s more interesting to look at the game log, which highlights both the extremely dominant potential lurking, as well as the inconsistency he was trying to rein in. Arrieta had starts in which he struck out 8, 9, and 11 batters. He also had three starts where he didn’t get out of the fourth inning.
The rebuilding Cubs had seen enough by August, though, and brought him up to the big club so that they – and he – could more fully accelerate the process of becoming what he was to become. I remember watching his 2013 starts with the Cubs with great attention, dreaming on the guy he would be occasionally, only to see him mightily struggle through a start the very next turn through the rotation.
Everything changed in 2014, though (not 2015, as so many national pundits erroneously harped upon in the run up to his Cy Young win). That year, Arrieta made 25 starts with the big league team, posting a 2.53 ERA, a 2.26 FIP, and a 2.73 xFIP. He was worth 5.0 WAR, third most in the National League.
And, of course, he came oh-so-close to a few no-hitters, which presaged what would happen a year later (and then again a year after that).