This week’s spotlight is on the Chicago Cubs‘ ace Jake Arrieta. How good has Arrieta been? The answer is real good, and he has also put in a first half that has been about as consistent as anyone. Arrieta has been the stopper for the Cubs, and on Sunday afternoon, he stopped the Cubs recent slide with a two-hit complete game victory over the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox. It was Arrieta’s second complete game of the first half. For good measure he also added his first career home run, aiding his own cause on the mound.
While Arrieta was not included on the National League All-Star roster, he just may be the Cubs’ most important pitcher going forward if they hope to reach the postseason.
With the win, Arrieta now as 10 victories going into the break. That ties his career high with an entire second half to go. He has also set career first half bests in innings pitched (121.2), starts (18), strikeouts, and ERA. Arrieta will take a 2.66 ERA into the break, which is among the top 10 in the NL (8th), and also joins a handful of pitchers with double-digit wins. His 123 strikeouts are just 44 shy of his career high in a full season. Arrieta’s command and consistency continues to improve since his arrival in Chicago.
While much of the spotlight has been on Jon Lester ever since he joined the Cubs in the winter, Arrieta really has been the guy leading the staff on the North side. Lester’s first half has been more up and down, while Arrieta has been as consistent as can be. Of his 18 starts, 14 have been of the quality variety. With the trade deadline approaching, the Cubs may very well go out and add another starting pitcher for the stretch run. However, if the Cubs do have visions of reaching the postseason, they will only go as far as Arrieta takes them.
In a weekend series that saw a ton of great pitching on both sides of the crosstown battle, Arrieta may have saved the best for last. With the win, the surprising Cubs are seven games over .500 and in control of the second wild card in the National League. They have been sparked by youth and the art of the comeback. But with Arrieta as their staff bulldog, he does nothing but give the Cubs a chance to win every fifth day. Jake Arrieta will be in the spotlight to see if he can in fact lead the young Cubs in the second half to the postseason promise land.