Although Arrieta struck out only six, I could count on one hand the number of balls that were even remotely well-struck. If you were nitpicking, you’d point out that Arrieta’s command in the first three innings was not perfect, but it was spot-on after that. And, even in those first three innings, the command was really only off for a handful of pitches. Like I said: that’s if you were really stretching to find something to talk about.
In other words: Arrieta was dominant.
Let’s watch and enjoy a highlight package from his start. Incidentally, the clip includes some of the very little hard contact Arrieta gave up all night (for example, a Yunel Escobar liner that Ben Zobrist leaped to snag and turn into a double play), but also the nastiness of his six strikeouts.
The best parts are the two Mike Trout strikeouts, not only because the pitches – a filthy, darting changeup, and a beautiful drop-down curveball – were so good, but because on both of them, Trout whiffs, and then looks out at the mound as if to say, “What the? How did he do that?”
I could watch the changeup strikeout again and again and again:
Mike Trout meets Jake Arrieta. Don't feel bad, Mike. It's what Jake does. pic.twitter.com/n7Vfsrk7b5
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) April 5, 2016
That ball starts out on line for the middle right edge of the plate, and moves so rapidly that Miguel Montero nearly catches it at Trout’s back foot. If that’s going to be a pitch that Arrieta can command at will like his two-seamer (and occasional four-seamer), slider/cutter, and curveball? I mean, as a hitter, what the heck are you supposed to do against four plus pitches, located to both sides of the plate, all with silly movement and strong velocity?
Arrieta was incredibly good last year, and, while I cannot and will not suggest to you that he could be even better this year, I will say that the Arrieta I saw last night absolutely looked like a guy who could continue being as good as he was last year.
Which is nuts, in the best possible way.