Jake Arrieta Fitting in Very Well with His New Team (And Also Dominating)

Social Navigation

Jake Arrieta Fitting in Very Well with His New Team (And Also Dominating)

Chicago Cubs

One of the biggest decisions of the offseason was the one not to give Jake Arrieta the type of offer he’d accept to return to the north side of Chicago.

Given the way he (and his velocity) had been trending in recent years, and the unique opportunity to grab a talent like Yu Darvish, I don’t think too many believed it was the wrong move at the time – and I still very much don’t. (And the Cubs reportedly did offer something like six years and $120 million to Arrieta, so it’s not like they were completely uninterested in a reunion.)

But given how hot Arrieta’s start to the season has been with the Phillies, well, I wouldn’t blame you for pining. Here’s a quick look at his latest start, last night against the Diamondbacks:

Did you see that flip play at home?! Dang, Jake. Trying to get that Gold Glove?

In his fourth start of the season on Wednesday, Arrieta lasted 7.0 innings, allowing just 1 earned run on 4 hits, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. For the season, he’s earned a 1.82 ERA (11th in MLB) and 3.23 FIP (25th in MLB), thanks, primarily, to a vintage-Jake .170 batting average against, which, itself, has been built on an unbelievably low and MLB-leading 13.0% hard-hit rate.

Yep, Jake Arrieta is giving up hard contact just 13% of the time. As a reminder, the league average is 33.7% and the 2017 league leader, Max Scherzer, finished with a hard-hit rate twice as high (26.5%) as Arrieta’s current mark.

He isn’t striking out a ton of hitters just yet (18.8% (though he did strike out 10 Pirates a week ago)), but his 8.3% walk rate his manageable and he’s generating a ridiculous number of ground balls (63.2%). Basically, yeah, he’s earning it the way he always has: weak contact on the ground. If he adds strikeouts back to his game … he might be as dangerous as ever (ish).

And not that you’d expect anything less, but Arrieta is also fitting in very well with his new team, particularly in a leadership role. “Actions speak a lot louder than words,” Arrieta said via ESPN. “Any time you can put into motion what you’re trying to emphasize to these guys, it plays a huge role in their development. I don’t intend to be a preacher. But there are a lot of things I regard very highly as a starting pitcher that I’m trying to emphasize to these guys, and they’re starting to grasp it and run with it.”

His new manager, Gabe Kapler, noticed that Arrieta seems to get stronger when things go sideways, and implied that the younger guys on the team really respond to that: “That’s one thing we lean on. When we look out there, it’s like, ‘Oh, that guy won a Cy Young Award.’ And there’s a reason for it. It’s not just because he’s exceptionally talented physically. He’s gifted mentally. He’s strong-minded. When the game gets a little bit tough, he just gets a little bit tougher.”

It’s hard to be anything but happy for Jake Arrieta. He’s having success on the field and fitting into a leadership role in the clubhouse … but it’s even harder not to miss him just a bit. Here’s to continued lovely days ahead for him and the Phillies … until they run into the Cubs.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami