Second Half Jake Arrieta Day and Other Bullets

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Second Half Jake Arrieta Day and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

jake arrieta cubs road blueI tried using a neti pot for the first time last night. Boy, that was an experience. I still don’t entirely understand how it works, geographically speaking, but I’m intrigued by the potential benefits.

  • It’s Jake Arrieta Day, which has come to stand for something different over the past month than it had for the full year that preceded it. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just an obsessing-over-every-pitch thing, and anxious-about-when-he-dominates-again thing. Coming out of the break, the Cubs’ first four starters have all looked solid. Refreshed and energized even. Maybe the same will be true of Arrieta tonight, and the baseball fan in me – setting aside the Cubs fan – sure hopes so. Watching Arrieta work at his best is a thing of beauty, and that’s probably why it’s been all the more difficult to watch him struggle with his command over the past four starts. The good news is that there were very much signs in that finale against the Pirates that he was getting “it” back, and now, with a good long break to clear his mind and rest his arm, it’s a fair bet that he comes out sharp. Remember, though: for now, it’s not about the results. What you’re looking for is fastball command – Arrieta putting it generally where he wants – and a sharpness to his slider/cutter. For the most part, those are the primary things that have been missing during this stretch (and, to some extent, all season), and that has allowed batters to take a much more patient approach. That, in turn, raises Arrieta’s pitch count, increases walks, puts him in hitters’ counts, and generally makes him more hittable.
  • For his part, Joe Maddon hasn’t been sitting idly through this stretch – he’s been working with the Cubs’ “geeks” to look into some theories he’s had about Arrieta’s performance ( He also points out the significant difference in Arrieta’s performance when he gets to a 1-2 count instead of a 2-1 count (ESPN).
  • The recipe for Jon Lester’s success last night, after two ugly pre-break starts, was not too complicated: he commanded his pitches at the bottom of the zone much better, worked both sides of the plate, and had his good cutter going. Obviously it’s easier said than done, but that’s what has made Lester so good for so long – when he’s doing what he’s capable of doing, he’s going to be fine. He still had some nits to pick with his own outing, but all in all it sounds like he was pleased (ESPN).
  • If the Cubs go out and add a “closer” type reliever (rumors persist), Hector Rondon says he’ll have no problem pitching whatever inning in which he’s called up (CSN). He’s also eager to learn from a guy like Joe Nathan, assuming the former star closer joins the Cubs in short order.
  • Ben Zobrist got the last two games off as something of an additional All-Star Break, according to Joe Maddon (CSN), since the 35-year-old’s was interrupted by the festivities and travel associated with the game. There is no injury, but it’s just a matter of keeping an older player fresh for the second half. The Cubs have the luxury of a guy like Javy Baez who can cover for Zobrist, so there’s no reason not to give Zobrist plenty of rest.
  • Over at Baseball is Fun, Michael checks out the best highlights from yesterday’s action.
  • A portable ice maker on sale at Amazon. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Technology!
  • Favorite uniforms … Kris Bryant does not choose the Cubs! Criminal:

  • I love seeing these updates, and seeing that Kyle Hendricks remains near the top:

  • Game of Thrones won’t be back until next Summer, but Kris Bryant is doing his part to keep it in our consciousness:

Author: Brett Taylor

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