Jake Arrieta turned in another great performance Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, pitching seven and two-thirds innings, allowing three runs and walking three in Chicago‘s 5-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs righty, who was in line for the win until Hector Rondon blew the save in the ninth inning, has been a pleasant surprise for a Chicago team that hasn’t necessarily been as bad as their 40-52 record indicates. Despite being 12 games under .500, the Cubs are 20-20 at home, and most of that success can be attributed to the team’s starting rotation that now finds Arrieta as its ace.
Led by Arrieta, the Cubs pitching staff leads the National League with 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and the club boasts a respectable 3.70 team ERA. While the Cubs aren’t necessarily going to be competing this year in a National League Central with the likes of St. Louis and Milwaukee, the good team pitching stats are an encouraging sign for a Chicago team that hasn’t experienced postseason success in a long time. Arrieta undoubtedly needs to be just as good in the second half of the 2014 season, as he is now the lone ace on a Cubs team that just traded starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland. Still, expectations should be tempered for Arrieta, whose career ERA is only 4.72.
The Missouri native’s momentum grows with every successful start, however, as he has pitched at least seven innings in five of his last six starts. Arrieta’s ERA has plummeted since giving up four runs in a May 27 start against the Giants, a string of eight starts in which he has allowed two runs only twice. Even more impressive is the fact that Arrieta has struck out nine or more four times while keeping his walks to a minimum. He will look to continue his hot start to 2014 after the All-Star break.
It looks as if Jake Arrieta will still be in Chicago when the trade deadline passes, and that’s good news for Cubs fans. The righty is an up-and-coming star who will be able to help the team in the near future. Despite the Cubs’ poor record, Arrieta is giving Chicago a chance to win every time he’s on the mound, a welcome sight for all associated with the organization.