Jake Arrieta Ready To Lead Cubs Today
By Bret Spurgin(Guest Contributor) @RedDirtCyclone
On August 30th, 2015 Jake Arrieta was on the mound in Los Angeles. Miguel Montero was behind the plate. Arrieta was in the midst of what is questionably the best 2nd half for a pitcher in the history of baseball. He would go on to have a ERA of 0.75, 113 strike outs, while walking only 22. It was an epic season that was going to perhaps win him the Cy Young Award. Needing a punctuation point, he got it that night in L.A. Jake dominated the Dodgers that evening. He struck out 13 hitters, walked one, and no hit the Dodgers. That performance did indeed catapult him to the Cy Young and helped set up 3 of the best years in Chicago Cubs history.
Jake came to Chicago as a beardless piece of a trade that included Pedro Strop for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevinger. Arrieta had been a struggling pitcher up to that point and seemed like a throw in for reliever Strop. No one would have envisioned that in just two short years Arrieta would be a Cy Young winning ace for a team that was just one season from being a World Series champion.
Before Jake takes the mound today in game 4 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals we all need to take a minute to appreciate and recognize his greatness in a Cubs uniform. Today may be his last start in the blue pinstripes. We all know he will be a free agent following this year. The Cubs are not expected to re-sign him. It is important for us all to remember “The Snake” for his memorable outings in the playoffs, his ability to rake when he is at the plate, and his appearance in the ESPN body issue(For all you ladies Cubs fan).
Arrieta has been a key cog in the building of a team that is on the brink of returning to the NLCS for the third straight time. He has battled injury and control issues to fight his way back to his 2015 self. That year was a magical one for The Cubs that fell short against the Mets in a sweep, but the team and Jake battled back.
To start the 2016 season Jake looked much like his old self which included tossing his second no-no against the Reds as the Cubs won 16–0. It was the second largest margin of victory in a no-hitter. Jake was helped by Kris Bryant’s monster day with 2 dingers and 6 RBI’s. But Jake also helped himself with 2 singles and scoring a run. The 2 career no-hitters ties him with Bob Holtzman and Larry Cocaran as the only three Cubs to accomplish that feat. He trails only Nolan Ryan in the number of no-no’s thrown on the road.
The other thing that sets Jake apart from other pitchers the Cubs have seen is his prowess at the plate. While he may sport a career batting average of .175 he has crushed some real dingers in his time in the Windy City. The most memorable on came in San Francisco last postseason against Madison Bumgarner. Mad Bum was carrying a 23 inning scoreless streak coming into the top of the 2nd but hit Addison Russell and had given up a single to Javy Baez. He got Montero to fly out and then up to the plate steps Jake. He proceeds to blast a line drive into the bleachers in left field . The Cubs may have lost that game in 13 innings, a game we all remember staying up well past midnight for. There were plenty of Cubs fans irritated and groggy at work the next day. But remembering that blast by Arrieta and how exciting it was to see him, a pitcher, get to Mad Bum and bust the scoreless streak.
If tonight is indeed Jake’s last time in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field it should be a celebration of what he has brought to this franchise. The beard that elated Cubs Nation in 2015 will never be forgotten. Whether it is for his dominance on the mound or his swagger and attitude at the plate, or everything else he has done for the Cubs and for all of Cubby Nation.
Doug Preszler is the type of person who can be a Cubs fan and an Iowa fan while living in South Dakota. He is a man who cares not for regional loyalty. He can be found on Twitter here, telling tales of the Dakotan Cubs fan’s existence.