Jake Arrieta Week: NL Player of the Week, Leaving Baltimore, Bullpen Superstitions, More

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Jake Arrieta Week: NL Player of the Week, Leaving Baltimore, Bullpen Superstitions, More

Chicago Cubs News

jake arrieta vintage

Last Thursday night, Jake Arrieta threw the second no-hitter of his career, allowing no runs, no hits, four walks, and striking out six in his nine innings of work.

On Monday, he was honored as the NL’s Player of the Week.

Arrieta’s first no-hitter came last season in Los Angeles, when he no hit the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The most recent one came against the Reds at Great American Ballpark on Thursday, April 21.

With that second no-hitter, Arrieta became just the third Cub ever to throw more than one for Chicago.

The Player of the Week honor, announced Monday night, was Arrieta’s fourth(!) since July 12 of last season (Hey! He was also the Stud of the Series). Since then, he’s gone 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA and, of course, two no-hitters. Because of the no-hitter and the honor of NL Player of the Week, I thought we could do a mini-Jake Arrieta bullet piece to round up the various, remaining bits on him. This is that piece! [Brett: Ok, Perd.]

  • At Cubs.com, Carrie Muskat gets tales and a reaction from the Cubs bullpen and what they experienced throughout Arrieta’s no-hitter. As you can probably imagine, some of these guys are pretty superstitious. For example, Adam Warren didn’t get up from his seat for the entire game – nine whole innings without using the bathroom, getting a drink of water anything. Travis Wood, on the other hand, describes the following scenario: “If you got up between innings, you do the same thing and then sit back down,” Wood told Muskat via Cubs.com. “Even if it’s getting a cup of water every inning. You did it for six innings, you have to go get it for the seventh and the eight.”
  • The other pitchers joined in on the fun, as well. Bullpen coach Lester Strode nearly bet his paycheck to Justin Grimm (a bet Grimm wishes he accepted now) and Pedro Strop is calling for another no-hitter or perfect game this season (maybe this time at Wrigley, eh Jake?). It’s certainly a fun read at Cubs.com.
  • At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan discusses Jake Arrieta’s former days as a failed Baltimore Orioles prospect and what might have happened to cause the career revival in Chicago. Interestingly, Passan notes, Arrieta (and a few other Orioles pitchers) did not work well with then pitching coach Rick Adair, whose coaching strategy and philosophy stood in stark contrast to Arrieta’s. In fact, Zack Britton (a pitcher that came up alongside Arrieta in Baltimore) recalls Adair’s desire to strip the pitchers of everything that brought them success in the minor leagues based on the idea that it “just doesn’t work here [the Major Leagues].”
  • Moreover, Arrieta was “forbidden” from throwing the cutter/slider he now uses so frequently and to great success. “Instead of trying to make Arrieta into a cookie-cutter pitcher,” Passan writes at Yahoo Sports, “the Cubs embraced allowing him to find what made him comfortable.” And we’re all glad they did. [Brett: I’d add that I believe the Orioles also tried to remove Arrieta’s crossfire delivery, which I suspect has been a big part of what makes him so unhittable with the Cubs.]
  • At FanGraphs, August Fagerstrom writes about how defensive metrics may have saved Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter, Thursday night – with a specific reference to Dexter Fowler’s starting defensive positioning in center field. Throughout his career, Fowler has mostly played a very shallow center field. Apparently, that relative positioning is something he was taught in Colorado and it has stuck with him ever since. However, there has been a push from Joe Maddon for Fowler to start out a little deeper in center, and there was at least one batted ball that may have fallen for a hit if he didn’t! So, thanks, defensive metrics, for providing us with a no-hitter! Check out Fagerstrom’s piece for some GIFs and further explanation of the events.
  • Also at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron writes about how Jake Arrieta is the King of Weak Contact and why that is making him such a formidable pitcher. In addition to walking very few and striking out very many hitters, Arrieta also allows some of the weakest contact in baseball. In fact, his average exit velocity on fly balls, line drives and grounders is either second best or best in baseball (behind Clayton Kershaw or Francisco Liriano), and each is a full two standard deviations below the Major League average. Because of the constant and consistently weak contact, Arrieta also has the lowest BABIP among qualified starting pitchers since 2014 (and it’s not an accident or luck). So, how do you throw a no-hitter with just six strike outs? You allow only weak contact and let your defense do the rest.
  • Lastly, because they’re all I can think about now, let’s relive both of Arrieta’s no-hitters’ glory:


Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.