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Arrieta’s Dominance, Surprising ERA Leaders, Wilson’s Debut, Christie’s Nachos, and Other Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Ah, getting back to semi-normalcy post-Trade Deadline … it always takes me a few days.


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  • What a pitching matchup today, eh? Jose Quintana versus a resurgent Zack Greinke. After a disastrous 2016 in which he struggled to adjust to Life After Velocity in the Juiced Ball Era (plus having the weight of one of the most monstrous contracts in baseball), Greinke has rebounded in a huge way in 2017, with the fifth lowest ERA in baseball.
  • Speaking of ERA, you know which starting pitcher is the Cubs’ qualifying ERA leader? It’s Jake Arrieta, at 3.88, after last night’s outing. Kyle Hendricks is slightly lower, at 3.80, but he missed enough time to no longer have enough innings to qualify.
  • More random ERA fun: Wade Davis leads the bullpen at 2.00, but you know who’s number two? If you’ve been watching closely, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s Brian Duensing (2.45).
  • Oh, and a word on ERA: for years, ERA became a maligned stat among sabermetric circles, and not without good reason. It is subject to terrible rules about what counts as an “earned” run for which pitcher, it involves far too much luck with sequencing and defense, and can vacillate wildly with one unlucky outing. However, in an era where we now know a lot more about the quality of contact and the impact that has on a pitcher’s ability to help his defense, I’ve started to lean back toward appreciating ERA a bit more. That’s especially true when our understanding of offense in the Juiced Ball Era is changing (notice that I basically don’t use xFIP at all this year? That’s why – I don’t trust normalized home run rates right now). ERA is far from perfect, but it, together with FIP, might be the best we’ve got.

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  • It sounds like Arrieta worked really well with new Cubs catcher Alex Avila, immediately putting trust in Avila’s ability to call the game (Cubs.com). Obviously it’s up to Arrieta to execute and command his pitches – which he did, with aplomb – but it’s great to see the new guy come in an develop that comfort, especially when you’d otherwise worry about disrupting a stretch where Arrieta has posted a 3.04 ERA since a mid-May mechanical adjustment.
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
  • Also on Arrieta: he was sitting at 92.6 mph last night, and touched 94.9 mph (Brooks). So that’s good to see. Moreover, he was keeping it in the zone (66.1% strike percentage), and using it to set up his breaking pitches – he threw 26 curveballs and sliders, and got swings and misses on more than a quarter of them. There was basically nothing not to like about how Arrieta looked last night, in what might have been his most impressive performance of the year. Given how he’s pitched now for the last couple months? I think it’s fair to expect Arrieta to continue to be very good the rest of the way.
  • Justin Wilson made his Cubs debut last night, and although it was not perfect, he did make Paul Goldschmidt look silly, which is not easy to do:

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  • I’ve gotten some questions about it, so I’ll just repost here in case you missed it: everything you need to know about trades in August.
  • Kyle Schwarber is still interested in catching some games, and stays fresh on the scouting side of things (Tribune). With Alex Avila now in the fold, joining Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini (who will be back up in September), though, it’s possible Schwarber doesn’t catch again this year.

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  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems to be applauding himself for not dumping his nachos on the head of the Cubs fan who was razzing him at the Brewers game this past weekend. Which, I mean, OK. Dumping your nachos on someone who taunted you would never been an acceptable option (and, let’s be honest – that fan was never at risk for that … ).
  • Yo, Under Armour gear is a deal of the day at Amazon, so check out the selection.
  • Oh, Michael:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.