Jake Arrieta

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Jacob Joseph Arrieta

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jake Arrieta appeared in the Olympics before making his major league debut in 2010. He won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

Amateur Career[edit]

Arrieta was 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA as a high school junior and had a 5-4, 1.30 record as a senior. The Cincinnati Reds chose him in the 31st round of the 2004 amateur draft but he opted for college. He went 6-2 with a 3.43 ERA as a freshman at Weatherford Junior College. The Milwaukee Brewers picked him in the 26th round of the 2005 amateur draft but again he spurned the professional ranks. Instead, he spent the summer with the McKinney Marshalls, crafting a 4-3, 1.87 mark with 38 hits allowed in 62 2/3 innings. Baseball America rated him one of the top 10 prospects in the Texas Collegiate League. Transferring to Texas Christian University (where he studied sports psychology) for his sophomore season, he went 14-4 with a 2.35 ERA, tying Lauren Gagnier for the NCAA Division I lead in victories while finishing second in the Mountain West Conference in ERA, .11 behind Danny Herrera (the two would split Mountain West Pitcher of the Year honors). Arrieta was named a second-team All-American by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Jake joined Team USA in 2006, the first TCU player ever selected. He went 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA, giving up only 10 hits in 35 innings (but walking a team-high 23). Only David Price was relied on to pitch more innings for the team. Arrieta shut out Taiwan, Nevada and the Czech Republic and helped the US win the 2006 World University Championship. In 2007, he posted a 9-3, 3.01 record and led the MWC with 93 strikeouts as a junior. He was second to Jesse Craig in ERA and named to the All-Conference team. The Baltimore Orioles drafted him in the 5th round of the 2007 amateur draft. He signed with scout Jim Richardson for a $1.1 million signing bonus, a record for a 5th-round pick.

Minor League Career[edit]

Arrieta signed too late to debut in the minors in 2007, making his pro debut in the Arizona Fall League by tossing 16 scoreless innings for the Phoenix Desert Dogs, permitting just 8 hits and 7 walks while striking out 16 (1-0, 14 games). He led the AFL in ERA. Baseball America rated him the #14 prospect in the AFL, right after Jeff Clement; he was the third-rated pitcher after Adam Miller and Anthony Swarzak and ahead of Max Scherzer. He made his minor league debut in 2008 with the Frederick Keys, going 5-4 with a 3.02 ERA through his first 16 starts with 91 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings and 64 hits allowed. He made the US roster for the 2008 Futures Game and pitched one game for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when they won Bronze. He allowed two hits in 6 scoreless innings in a win over the host Chinese national team.

Major League Career[edit]

Jake made his major league debut with the Orioles on June 10, 2010, only two days after the much-publicized debut of his Olympic teammate Stephen Strasburg. Facing the New York Yankees, he gave up 3 runs in 6 innings to earn a rare 4-3 win for the O's. He continued to pitch well over the rest of the season, going 6-6, 4.66 in 18 starts. He earned a spot in the Orioles' starting rotation to begin the 2011 season and continued to pitch well, matching his win total of the previous year by the end of May. He was 10-8 with a 5.05 ERA in early August when the Orioles shut him down, concerned over a problem with his throwing elbow, sending him to a specialist to look at a possible season-ending injury to correct a problem caused by a fibrous mass in the articulation.

Arrieta was back in the Orioles' rotation at the start of 2012. On May 2nd, he pitched the best game of his career to date, by holding the New York Yankees to 5 singles over 8 innings, striking out 9 while walking none, in a 5-0 win which ended Ivan Nova's streak of consecutive wins at 15. This proved to be the high point of Arrieta's season. In his next two appearances, the righty gave up 6 earned runs against the Texas Rangers and 7 earned runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. A 7-inning quality start against the Washington Nationals seemed to get him back on track, but he allowed at least 4 earned runs in 7 of his next 9 starts, only reaching the 7th inning twice. Following his 18th start of the season on July 5th against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a second straight debacle in which he failed to get out of the 4th inning, Arrieta was demoted to the minor leagues. His ERA had ballooned to 6.13 and his record on the season stood at 3-9. He came back in September and pitched six times in relief, but things did not go much better, as his ERA was 6.75 in 13 1/3 innings, and he ended the season with an ERA of 6.20. To no one's surprise, he was left off the Orioles' postseason roster.

He was back with the Birds at the start of the 2013 season, but his problems continued. After 4 starts, his record stood at 1-1, but with an ERA of 6.63, and the 16 walks he had issued in 19 innings were the most in the American League. On April 22nd, the Orioles demoted him to the AAA Norfolk Tides for the second straight year, hoping that he would get back in a groove. He went 3-3, 5.50 in 7 games at Norfolk, but issued only 10 walks in 36 innings. The Orioles called him back up on June 14th, originally with the idea of using him in the bullpen, but turned around and gave him a start on June 17th in place of an ailing Jason Hammel. Jake promptly gave up 5 runs on 10 hits to the Detroit Tigers in 4 2/3 innings, was charged with the 5-1 loss and was sent back to Norfolk.

On July 2nd, the Orioles traded him to the Chicago Cubs, along with Pedro Strop, in return for veteran starter Scott Feldman. After spending some more time in the minors, he had a very good debut for the Cubs, giving up only 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings in the second game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers on July 30th. He was added to the roster as the 26th man for that doubleheader, coming back to stay on August 16th behind another excellent outing, this time against the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched 7 shutout innings and was credited with his first National League win as the Cubs won, 7-0. Jake finished 4-2, 3.66 in 9 starts for the Cubs, a prelude to a breakout season the next year. Combined with his time in Baltimore, he was 5-4, 4.78 on the year.

Arrieta had a great start for the Cubs on June 24, 2014, when he retired the first 18 batters he faced in defeating the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3. He gave up 2 runs and struck out 9 over 7 innings to improve to 4-1 on the season. In his next start, against the Boston Red Sox on June 30th, he carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning before Stephen Drew ended his bid with a two-out single. He left at that point, but relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon completed a two-hit 2-0 combined shutout. On September 16th, he pitched a complete game one-hit shutout in defeating the Cincinnati Reds, 7-0. The only hit was a two-out double by Brandon Phillips in the 8th and he struck out 13 while improving his record to 9-5 in spite of pitching for a last-place team. He finished the season 10-5, 2.53, with 167 strikeouts in 156 2/3 innings. He would have finished 6th in the National League in ERA had he pitched the additional 5 1/3 innings he needed to qualify for the ERA crown, while his 9.6 K/9 ratio would have placed him 4th.

He was a winner in his first start of the 2015 season on April 8th as he allowed no runs on 3 hits over 7 innings in defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0. It was also the first win for Joe Maddon as manager of the Cubbies. On July 12th, in the Cubs' last game before the All-Star break, he pitched a complete game two-hitter, struck out nine batters and homered off Jose Quintana in a 3-1 win over the crosstown Chicago White Sox. The homer was his first in the majors and he finished the first half with a 10-5 mark. He became the first major league pitcher to reach 15 wins when he defeated the Atlanta Braves, 7-1, on August 20th. On August 30th, he pitched a no-hitter, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-0. It was his major league leading 17th win and he struck out 12 in handing the Dodgers their second no-hit loss in ten days, after they had fallen victim to Mike Fiers of the Houston Astros. He benefit from the official scorer charging shortstop Starlin Castro with an error on a grounder off the bat of Kike Hernandez in the 3rd. Jake was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for August, going 6-0 with a microscopic 0.43 ERA. On September 22nd, he won his 20th game, 4-0 over the Brewers, becoming the first to reach the mark in the majors that year, and the first for the Cubs since Jon Lieber in 2001. On September 27th, in a tune-up for the Wild Card Game against ace Gerrit Cole, he pitched 7 scoreless innings to defeat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-0, in the process picking up his 21st win and also hitting a home run. He started the game retiring the first 18 batters he faced in order, finishing with 9 strikeouts and no walks. He was again named Pitcher of the Month in September, when he went 4-0, 0.45. Jake led the senior circuit in pitcher wins (22) and paced second in the ERA race behind Zack Greinke. His 0.75 ERA following the All-Star Game was a MLB record. Jake started the Wild Card Game against Cole at PNC Park on October 7th and pulled off a vintage performance, shutting out the Pirates on 4 hits in a 4-0 complete game. He won again in Game 3 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals on October 12th, although his performance was not as dominant as usual, as he gave up 4 runs in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-6 Cubs win. He finally lost a game when the Cubs were swept by the New York Mets in the NLCS, giving up 4 runs in 5 innings in Game 2 to end up a 4-1 loser. After the season, he was voted the winner of the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, finishing ahead of two Dodger teammates, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

Jake was back in dominant form early in 2016. On April 21st, his fourth start of the year, he pitched his second career no-hitter in a 16-0 drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds. He walked 4 and struck out 6, starting his season with a record of 4-0 and an 0.87 ERA, having allowed only 15 hits in 31 innings. In his next start, April 28th, he took a shutout into the 5th inning, extending his scoreless streak at Wrigley Field to a record 52 2/3 innings, having surrendered his last run in the friendly confines on July 25th the previous year. He received credit for a 7-2 win over the Brewers, although he was taken out after five innings with the Cubs having a nice lead on a cold day. The early hook ended his streak of 24 consecutive quality starts, two shy of the record set by Bob Gibson in 1968. He was named the National League's Pitcher of the Month for April after going 5-0 with an ERA of 1.00. On May 20th, he won his 19th consecutive decision in an 8-1 win over the San Francisco Giants, then won again on May 25th to improve to 9-0. His streak of the Cubs winning every game he started ended on May 31st, but it took a great collective effort by the Dodgers, who one-hit the Cubs in a 5-0 win. Jake was not charged with the loss, as he pitched seven scoreless frames matching up with Scott Kazmir and Joe Blanton before the bullpen faltered.

He suffered his first loss in ten months on June 5th, when the Cubs bowed to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-2. His 20 straight wins until that loss were the third most since 1913, tied with Roger Clemens and behind only Roy Face (22) and Carl Hubbell (24). He went through a tough stretch in June and early July, as he looked mortal in putting up a record of 3-4 with an ERA of 4.81 over 7 starts. That did not prevent him from being named to the All-Star team for the first time, although he did not appear in the game. He was back to his old self July 19th, when he gave up one run in 7 innings and dominated the strike zone in a no-decision against the New York Mets. Overall, his second half was a lot less brilliant than the first: he was 12-4, 2.68 in 18 starts before the All-Star break, but 6-4, 3.69 afterwards, for a final mark of 18-8, 3.10. In the postseason, he made one start in each of the Cubs first two series: a no-decision in Game 3 of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, and a 6-0 loss in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the 2016 World Series, he won Game 2 against the Cleveland Indians, 5-1, and Game 6, with the Cubs facing elimination, 9-3. In 11 1/3 innings in the World Series, he allowed only 5 hits and 3 runs while striking out 15, making major contributions to the Cubs' first title in 108 years.

Like much of the team, Arrieta started the 2017 season slowly. After 15 starts, he was 7-5, but with an ERA of 4.36, far from the dominance he had displayed the previous two seasons. On June 27th, he had a particularly dreadful start against the Washington Nationals, giving up 6 runs in 4 innings and being victimized by 7 stolen bases. After the game, catcher Miguel Montero spoke up, blaming Jake for not holding the runners or attempting to speed up his delivery, leaving him with absolutely no chance to throw out the Nationals' aggressive baserunners. The Cubs' brass decided that Arrieta was more valuable to the team than the veteran catcher, designating Montero for assignment the following day. For his part, Arrieta reacted by pitching his best game of the year in his next outing July 2nd, allowing only one hit (and no stolen bases) in 7 innings of a 6-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He really got hot in August, when he was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for the fourth time of his career after going 4-1, 1.21 in 6 starts as the Cubs pulled away from the rest of the NL Central. In his first September start, on September 4th, he exited a game against the Pitsburgh Pirates in the 3rd inning with a hamstring cramp. For the season, Arrieta went 14-10, 3.53 in 30 starts, pitching 168 1/3 innings. He lost his only start in the Division Series against the Nationals on October 11th, despite giving up just one unearned run in four innings, as the Cubs were shut out. But in the NLCS, he was the only Cubs pitcher to record a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers as he was a 3-2 winner in Game 4 on October 18th, pitching 6 2/3 innings.

Arrieta became a free agent following the 2017 season, and after four consecutive solid years as a starter, he should have been in high demand, but this was the winter when somehow teams discovered the virtues of fiscal restraint all at the same time. Jake was one of the high-profile victims of the situation, being on the market until signing a three-year deal worth $75 million from the Philadelphia Phillies on March 11, 2018. He was lucky to receive a multi-year deal for an annual salary in line with similar top-line pitchers; others in the same situation had to settle for one-year (and even minor-league) deals, often with a below-market salary. He had an average season, going 10-11, 3.96 in 31 starts. He pitched 172 1/3 innings and struck out 138 batters. He started the 2019 season strong for a Phillies team that was all in to go deep in the postseason after an active offseason. On April 12th, he earned career win #100 by beating the Miami Marlins, 9-1. But it was another disappointing season for him on the whole, as he made just 24 starts, going 8-8, 4.64. On August 14th, it was announced he was finished for the year as he needed to undergo surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow. 2020 did not go any better as he made just 9 starts in the pandemic-shortened year, and the results were porr with a record of 4-4, 5.08, while the Phillies again missed out on the postseason.

Arrieta's final season in the majors was a complete disaster. His contract with the Phillies having come to an end, he signed a deal to return to the team with which he had had the most success, the Cubs, but was nothing short of awful in 20 starts with them. He went 5-11, 6.88 during that time and on August 12th, he was simply released, as there was apparently nothing left in the tank. It was taken as a sign of how desperate the San Diego Padres, who had entered the season as favorites to make the postseason, had become when they picked him up one year later and actually allowed him to start 4 meaningful games. That stretch became the emblem of the Padres' fall from grace that season, as he went 0-3 with an ERA of 10.95 for a team that completely fell apart down the stretch. He ended the year at 5-14, 7.39 in 24 starts, one of the worst performances by a regular starting pitcher in recent memory.

He was unsurprisingly unable to find another team willing to give him a chance after that performance, but it took until the following April for him to acknowledge the facts and formally announce his retirement. Over 12 seasons, he had compiled a very good record of 115-93 with an ERA of 3.98 over 1,612 1/3 innings. He was used almost exclusively as a starting pitcher: only 6 of his 285 career appearances came in relief.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (2016)
  • 2015 NL Cy Young Award
  • NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2016)
  • NL Wins Leader (2015)
  • NL Complete Games Leader (2015)
  • NL Shutouts Leader (2015)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2015 & 2016)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • Won one World Series with the Chicago Cubs in 2016

NL Cy Young Award
2014 2015 2016
Clayton Kershaw Jake Arrieta Max Scherzer


Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Berg: "How Cubs ace Jake Arrieta went from one of MLB's worst starters to one of its best", "For The Win!", USA Today, August 31, 2015. [1]
  • Mark Feinsand: "Arrieta's big-game pedigree could pay dividends: Agent discusses 2015 NL Cy Young winner, Hosmer, Martinez at GM Meetings", mlb.com, November 15, 2017. [2]
  • Daniel Kramer: "Free agent Arrieta presents dilemma for suitors: Former Cy Young Award winner's velocity down, hard-hit rate up in '17", mlb.com, November 25, 2017. [3]
  • Carrie Muskat: "Strong body and mind fuel Cubs' Arrieta: Right-hander benefits from sports psychology program he started at TCU", mlb.com, February 22, 2015. [4]
  • Carrie Muskat: "There's no-no doubting Arrieta's greatness", mlb.com, April 22, 2016. [5]
  • Bob Nightengale: "As free agency approaches, Cubs All-Star Jake Arrieta trending upward: 'I like my chances'", USA Today Sports, August 6, 2017. [6]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Jake Arrieta's emergence gives Cubs ace in the hole", USA Today Sports, August 28, 2015. [7]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Cubs' Jake Arrieta wins NL Cy Young award", USA Today Sports, November 18, 2015. [8]
  • Mike Petriello: "How Jake Arrieta became an ace: Sinker, curve, change all rank highly on spin leaderboards", mlb.com, June 25, 2015. [9]
  • Phil Rogers: "Arrieta worthy of NL Cy Young Award: Greinke, Kershaw having stellar seasons, but Cubs hurler has 1.00 ERA over last 16 starts", mlb.com, September 11, 2015. [10]
  • Phil Rogers: "Pay that man his money: Arrieta worth it for Cubs", mlb.com, December 29, 2016. [11]
  • Mike Vorkunov: "As trade deadline proved, Cubs are lucky to have an ace like Jake Arrieta", USA Today Sports, August 3, 2016. [12]
  • Todd Zolecki: "Phillies agree to multiyear deal with Arrieta", mlb.com, March 12, 2018. [13]

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