The scout who recommended the Chicago Cubs trade for Jake Arrieta deserves a big raise and a huge bonus. Sunday night Arrieta played with perfection into the seventh inning when the Pirates finally got their first hit of the night. Until then they were stymied by maybe the best pitcher in baseball this season.
For six innings, the Pittsburgh Pirates could not figure out Arrieta, who is the only pitcher to win at least 20 games this season. He gained his 21st win of the season Sunday night. He also already has pitched a no-hitter, and fans agree that he has another in him, even a perfect game. And if playing with perfection and striking out nine in seven innings wasn’t enough, he even hit a home run to help the team win the final game against the Pirates 4-0.
In a post-game interview Arrieta told reporters he knew he had it together before the game and it transferred to the mound. Fans saw it too, commenting early in the game that Arrieta was really on his game.
Monday, Arrieta was named National League Player of the Week, a well-deserved recognition for the best pitcher the Cubs have had in close to 100 years and the best pitcher in baseball since the All-Star game.
Arrieta has also made a very good case for winning this year’s Cy Young Award. Consider these numbers. As of today, Arrieta has pitched 40 and 2/3rds innings of scoreless baseball at Wrigley Field this year. That broke a record set by Bob Gibson of the Cardinals in the mid-1960s. He also has an opportunity to set a record for lowest second half Earned Run Average (ERA) in the major leagues for the second half of the season if he can maintain his current 0.80 ERA.
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon thinks that Arrieta should be named National League Most Valuable Player for his performance this season. Could he win both awards? It has been done before. Just last year, Clayton Kershaw won both awards and several other pitchers have won both awards including Justin Verlander in 2011, Dennis Eckersley in 1992, Roger Clemens in 1986, Denny McLain in 1968, Sandy Koufax in 1963 and Don Newcombe in 1956.
But bleedcubbieblue.com’s Al Yellon does not believe that Arrieta will win for MVP. He is predicting that award will go to Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper this year, but that Arrieta could get some attention.
Arrieta is scheduled to pitch one more time in the regular season on Friday in Milwaukee. His next start will likely be in Pittsburgh on October 7 in the Wild Card game. It’s pretty safe to say that the Pirates are not looking forward to facing Arrieta again. They just can’t figure him out, nor can most teams.