He had his doubters. I wasn’t one of them, but as a supporter of his pending “Number one status” in January of 2015, I was on the receiving end of a wide-scale debate as to who was a better pitcher for the Chicago Cubs: incumbent righty Jake Arrieta or newly acquired $155 million, lefty hurler Jon Lester (who did end up number one in the rotation this past season).
Now I’m not one to gloat or say that I told you so. I love a good debate and without opposing opinions or facts, a solid “go” between these two pitcher or the other two Cy Young candidates from Los Angeles (Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke) would never occur. Greinke and Kershaw finished second and third respectively in the National League Cy Young award race behind him.
Arrieta, 29, was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2007 and made his major league debut in 2010. He was traded to the Cubs in 2013 and made an immediate impression on the ballclub from Northern Chicago. He didn’t start too hot that season while in Baltimore, tossing a hefty 7.23 ERA, but after the trade he started nine games for the Cubs giving up a 3.66 ERA, finishing his season with a combined 4.78 ERA.
Things only got better in 2014 as he stated 25 games and at the time had a carer best 2.53 ERA in 156.2 innings pitched. He added 167 strike outs and 47 walks. In the winter of 2014 there were questions about his durability stemming from the fact that he’d never pitched more than that 156.2 innings, with a previous high of 119.1 in 2011.
These doubts were somewhat solidified in the fan base when, as previously mentioned, the Cubs signed free agent Jon Lester to a six-year deal and earned the number-one spot in the rotation coming out of 2015’s spring training. Lester faltered early although still providing some really solid starts on the season but Arrieta’s was near perfection.
In 33 starts he had a record of 22-6 with a whisper thin 1.77 ERA. He pitched 229 innings and tallied 236 strike outs to go along with his 48 walks. He also added four complete games, three of which were shutouts. After July’s All-Star break Arrieta owned a virtually non-existent 0.75 ERA.
This is Arrieta’s first Cy Young Award after finished ninth in the voting last season. The last player to win it wearing a Cubs uniform was Greg Maddux in 1992.