This may be difficult to believe, but the Chicago Cubs, with Jake Arrieta‘s recent play, can justifiably make a run at the St. Louis Cardinals for NL Central bragging rights over the best starting rotation in the division.
Arrieta is a fifth-round draft pick from 2007. At 28 years old, it is reasonable to think he has found his niche after experimenting across parts of the minors and MLB for the last six seasons. For lack of a better word, since being called up to make a start May 3 for the Cubs, Arrieta has been outstanding. On a micro level, he picked up a win today for the Cubs, spinning seven innings of one run ball, walking only one while striking out 11.
On a macro level, Arrieta has strung together his third consecutive quality start for the Cubs and second straight win. On the season, he has a minuscule ERA of 1.98 across 50 IP, with 55 SO and only 15 BB.
With all the recent buzz over the Cubs shopping starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, a deeper look into rebuilding may not entirely be the best approach for them. Both starters are considered trade bait, but are not set to be free agents until 2016. Arrieta is signed through 2017.
To round out the rotation, Edwin Jackson and Travis Wood are both signed through the 2016 season. Neither of those two guys are bad options for a manager to backend his rotation with.
With all five starters set to return in 2015, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein may want to ponder their options moving forward. A win-now mentality may not do for 2014, but 2015 could certainly be promising with the present pitching staff if a few more of their bats begin to pay dividends in 2015.
With top prospect 3B Kris Bryant currently destroying minor league pitching, other top prospects in the organization are also expected to reach the majors by 2015. Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler are all promising players on the fast track to the Show.
With the continued development and improvement of current Cubs regulars like 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS Starlin Castro and OF Junior Lake, the Cubs could be one or two free agent signings in the offseason away from promoting a win-now mentality next season for the Wrigley faithful.