Jake Arrieta named National League Player of the Week

Jake Arrieta is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in April after going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA last season. His next start is Wednesday April 27th against the Milwaukee Brewers. This is the fourth career weekly honor for Arrieta, who was named NL Player of the Week three times last season. In recognition Arrieta will be awarded a watch courtesy of Game Time.

The reigning NL CY Young award winner and Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta won the player of the week award in the National League this afternoon, this to no surprise given the fact that the 30-year-old Arrieta just came off of a no hit performance against the Cincinnati Reds.

Arrieta sent down six and walked four in Chicago’s 16-0 win on Saturday April 23, 2016. The game was historic for a couple reasons, it was the largest margin of victory in a no-hitter since 1884 and it came just ten regular season starts after his first career no hitter, last August in against the Los Angeles Dodgers in LA.

In Major League Baseball history, there have only been two pitchers to have gone fewer starts between no hitters. Johnny Vander Meer, pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, threw back to back no hitters in 1938 and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn who played for the Milwaukee Braves, Spahn recorded two no hitters with five starts separating the two.

Arrieta is now 4-0 on the year with a 0.87 ERA through one month of play.

How did Arrieta end up in Chicago?

The Cubs front office had some decisions to make back in 2013, with their season rapidly going downhill it was time to look ahead and get pieces that would help them end the curse in the foreseeable future. On July 2, 2013 the Cubs traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for RHP Jake Arrieta and RHP Pedro Strop.

Upon his arrival, the Cubs optioned him to the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Iowa Cubs of the Pacific Coast League. Arrieta made five starts for the Iowa Cubs and that was all the Cubs front office needed to see before promoting him to the majors. His first start with the Cubs came against the Brewers on July 30, 2013, Arrieta went six innings giving up only one run in the Cubs 3-2 loss. Following his stellar first start with Chicago, the Cubs sent him back and forth between Iowa and Chicago for the rest of the season as they tried to figure out where he belongs within the organization.

Jake Arrieta pitching against the Albuquerque Isotopes during the second inning at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday, July 14, 2013. Photo: Dylan Heuer of Dylan Heuer Productions
Jake Arrieta pitching against the Albuquerque Isotopes during the second inning at Principal Park in Des Moines, Iowa on Sunday, July 14, 2013. Photo: Dylan Heuer of Dylan Heuer Productions

He ended the 2013 season with a combined total (MLB and MiLB combined) 30 games, 29 starts. He went 12-9 with a 4.42 ERA (Earned Run Average) and striking out 137 batters in 154.2 innings, not to mention that he nearly had pitched two no hitters. However, both of them were broken up in the seventh inning; Arrieta’s first season with the Cubs certainly showed promise and shaped him into the player he is today.

The 2014 season was more of the same for Jake as he led the Cubs in wins with a record of 10-5 and finished second on the team for lowest ERA with 2.53, Kyle Hendricks was the only pitcher whose ERA was better with a 2.46, not to mention Arrieta took three no-hitters into the seventh inning. Through his first two seasons with Chicago he had a combined five no-hitters that were broken up in the seventh inning, finally in 2015 the Cubs ace would be rewarded.

Arrieta’s 2015 season was without question one of the best pitching performances that the MLB has ever seen, according to some it was the best and many feel that no one will be able to do what he did ever again.

Jake went 22-6 during 2015 with a 1.77 ERA (0.75 ERA during the second half of the season, no one in the history of Major League Baseball has ever done that), he threw four complete games which is tied for first with five others. He accounted for 236 strikeouts which was sixth best in the league, and finally he was able to get his first career no hitter on August 30, 2015 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Arrieta sent down 12 batters including all three batters he faced in the first and ninth innings. Only one pitcher was able to do the same and his name was Sandy Koufax. Koufax last did it when he threw his perfect game in 1965, 21 years before Arrieta was even born.

Arrieta leads Cubs in 2015 playoffs

On October 7, 2015 the Cubs took on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the one game NL Wild Card; win or go home. Joe Maddon gave Arrieta the start and he continued to do what he does best; pitch. Jake pitched a four hit complete game shutout as the Cubs captured their first postseason win since 2003 in a 4-0 win. The win sent the Cubs to the NLDS for a meeting with the best team in baseball the St. Louis Cardinals.

Arrieta allowed four hits in nine dominant innings and Chicago rolled to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 NL wild-card game (AP)
Arrieta allowed four hits in nine dominant innings and Chicago rolled to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2015 NL wild-card game (AP)

The St. Louis series is where Arrieta went downhill, in game three of the series he gave up five hits, four earned runs and two of the runs came via the long ball as Jason Heyward went yard for a two run homer in the sixth inning. Though the Cubs would bail Arrieta out and give him the win due to the fact that they had six home runs, propelling the Cubs to an 8-6 win and a 2-1 series lead in a best of 5 NLDS. The Cubs would end up winning the series in four games and advanced to the NLCS for the first time since 2003.

The NLCS was a complete mess for the entire Cubs team, lack of experience seemed to play a roll. Arrieta was given the start in game two of the NLCS and he only lasted five innings, giving up four hits and four earned runs and two of them coming via the long ball on a Daniel Murphy two run shot in the first inning. The Cubs would go on to lose the game 4-1 and would eventually be swept by the Mets in four games.

Despite the poor pitching in two out of his three starts in the postseason, Arrieta provided MLB and its fans with one of the best pitching displays during the 2015 season, only time will tell whether or not Jake can replicate or better his performance this past season, thus far in 2016 the Cubs ace looks as if he picked up where he left off in 2015.

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