Is Jake Arrieta Back? Two Games, Two Wins, Two Quality Starts

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Apr 3, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) walks to dugout after delivering against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched 6 innings against the Pirates. He only gave up two earned runs while walking three batters and striking out four. Arrieta returned to the Cubs this season after spending the last three seasons with the Phillies. Arrieta struggled those three seasons, falling from the graces of winning his Cy Young award in 2015. His ERA had increased each season, peaking last season at 5.08 with his career’s highest WHIP. It was safe to say that Arrieta had something to prove to start this season.

So Far, 2021.

Feb 27, 2021; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) warming up during spring training at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

So far, Arrieta has been impressive in his two starts this season. In twelve innings pitched, Arrieta has a 2.25 ERA and is 2-0, off to an incredible start. Arrieta will need to keep this pace up if the Cubs want to compete in the National League. With the Dodgers adding Trevor Bauer and the Padres making multiple acquisitions (like ex-Cub Yu Darvish), the Cubs will need players like Arrieta to step up.

The Highs

Nov 2, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta celebrates in the clubhouse after defeating the Cleveland Indians in game seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Arrieta’s time with the Cubs in the mid-2010s was awe-inspiring. In a five-season span, he was 68-31, with a 2.73 ERA and a WHIP under 1 for two of those seasons. Frankly, Arrieta was nothing less than dominant in his first span with the Cubs. As Cubs fans could attest to, Arrieta was an important piece in their 2016 World Series victory against Cleveland. Arrieta was 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in that series, claiming wins in Game 2 and a pivotal Game 6. Chicago can only hope that Arrieta is a fraction as efficient as a pitcher now as he was before he left for Philadelphia.

Jake Arrieta Is Back? Not so fast.

Apr 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) delivers a pitch to Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier (26) during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a great start, some are still tempering their expectations for Arrieta this season. One main cause for this is that Jake’s first two starts were against the 1-6 Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh is notably one of the worst offensive teams in the MLB, finishing dead last in runs scored last season. Jake Arrieta may be back; his performance to begin the season is undeniably impressive. Ultimately, however, his performance in the coming weeks could be more telling about his place in the Cubs’ rotation.

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