The Chicago Cubs may not have made it to the World Series, yet, but postseason awards are streaming in. Call it a trifecta, call it a hat trick, call it what you want, but last night it was announced that the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) named ace pitcher Jake Arrieta as the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner. Earlier in the day the Internet Baseball Writers Association of American (IBWAA) also selected Arrieta as the National League Cy Young Award winner. He joins 2015 Rookie of the year Kris Bryant and 2015 Manager of the Year Joe Maddon in postseason recognition.
While most would agree that Bryant and Maddon were the likely winners of their awards, Arrieta was not guaranteed to win. He faced stiff competition from Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So how did Arrieta win the award? Since last season fans have been saying that Arrieta had a no-hitter in him. He finally pitched his first no-hitter on August 30 at Dodger Stadium. In September he took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was the first pitcher in the major leagues to win 20 games. His record for the season was 22-6 and he had an Earned Run Average (ERA) of 1.77. He led the major leagues in wins and posted the lowest ERA by a Cubs pitcher in 96 years. You’d have to go back to 1919 and Pete Alexander who finished that season with a 1.72 ERA. In his last 15 starts after the All-Star break, Arrieta went 12-1 with a 0.75 ERA. He had the, lowest ERA in the second half of a season since the All-Star Game began. Arrieta was named Pitcher of the Month for both August and September.
Arrieta is only the fifth Cubs pitcher in the history of the franchise to win the Cy Young Award. The last Cub to win the award was Greg Maddux in 1992. He joins Maddux, Fergie Jenkins, Bruce Sutter and Rick Sutcliff.
According to a Cubs press release, Arrieta also is only the fifth pitcher to have at least 22 wins with no more than six losses and an ERA under 2.00 since the ERA became an official statistic. He joins an elite club consisting of Sandy Koufax, Denny McLain, Ron Guidry and Dwight Gooden.
Arrieta also became the first pitcher in major league history to end a season with 20 consecutive quality starts. To top it off, he set a Wrigley Field record by ending the year with a 40.2 scoreless inning streak.
He will be remembered as the pitcher who pitched the Cubs to a win in the Wild Card game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh to send the Cubs to a Division Playoff Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and even stole a base after a bench clearing controversy.
Whether Arrieta can maintain the high level of play he showed this past season remains to be seen. At times he seemed like a machine. Those were the days you could tell he was “in the zone” as he put it one day. Cubs fans hope he stays “in the zone” for many more years.