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Frogs in the Pros Update: Jake Arrieta

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Look up Jake Arrieta on Twitter, and you’ll see Chicago’s fascination with him. Heck, you’ll see baseball’s fascination with him. From ESPYs to Bobbleheads to photos with fans and their kids, Jake Arrieta has made himself a unicorn in baseball.

That said, Arrieta’s season has been a little rocky after a fantastic start that had him 9-0 until the end of May. He had three losses by the end of the June, and July left much to be desired. But he’s still one of the top pitchers in the MLB, and we’re proud to call him a Frog. Here’s a full update on his season since we last saw him...

Back in June, Arrieta had two losses already when the Cubs were home against the Pirates on June 17. Arrieta pitched six innings and absolutely dominated the Pirates, allowing no runs on just two hits in six innings. He struck out 11 batters (the second most in any game this season), and walked three. The Cubs won 6-0.

On June 22, Arrieta was home against St. Louis and our boy Matt Carpenter. When the two Frogs meet, it’s always a battle to see who leads their team to victory. Arrieta actually held the Cardinals scoreless until the fifth inning, when he walked Carpenter, allowed a single by Aledmys Diaz, and then walked Matt Adams to load the bases with two outs. Stephen Piscotty hit a fielder’s choice to third, allowing Carpenter to score. Then Diaz managed to score on a throwing error by Ben Zobrist to make it 2-0 Cardinals. Arrieta allowed a total of two runs (one earned) on four hits in five innings. He walked four and struck out six. The rest of the Cubs’ bullpen fared the same, considering it was 7-0 by the bottom of the seventh. While the Cubs managed to put a couple runs on the board, they couldn’t catch up. The game ended with a 7-2 Cubs loss.

Next for Arrieta was a trip to Cincinnati to face the Reds on June 27. This turned out to be a wild game for everyone. First, Arrieta allowed five runs on four hits in five innings, which included a home run. He walked five and struck out four. But the game was way more exciting than it appears on paper. First, Arrieta strikes out in the top of the second. Then he comes out in the top of the fifth, picks up a bat, and hits his second home run of the season. Then he grabs his glove, goes out to the mound, and allows a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth. Fortunately, third baseman Kris Bryant helped him out by hitting a double in the first, a home run in the third, a home run in the fourth, and a home run in the eighth to keep the Cubs ahead and give them the 11-8 win. (Yes, please go back and read that last sentence again—Kris Bryant just became a legend.)

I’m gonna be honest. The month of July was uuuuu-gly for Arrieta. Critics argued he was tired, opposing fans argued he was past his prime, and the Cubs’ bullpen dropped to #24 of 30 statistically.

The month began with a game against the Mets July 2. Arrieta walked his first batter and allowed a home run by the second, making the score 2-0 Mets before the second inning even began. The Cubs tied it with a two-run homer of their own in the top of the fourth, but then Arrieta allowed two more runs off a single in the bottom of the fourth. That made it 4-2. Arrieta continued pitching until the bottom of the sixth, with runners on first and third. On the night, Arrieta allowed four runs on eight hits, while walking two and striking out four. The Cubs lost 4-3.

Now, I know he’s had some losses at this point, but those headlines above are a little extreme, don’t you think? Sheesh. Anyway, Arrieta’s next outing was July 8 in Pittsburgh. The first inning was three up, three down, in typical Arrieta fashion. Then in the bottom of the second, he allowed two home runs, making the score 3-0. He held the Pirates scoreless until the Cubs went ahead 4-3 in the seventh. But then he allowed an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game. The Cubs went through three more pitchers trying to contain the Pirates, but it was no use. The Cubs ended up losing 8-4. Arrieta pitched a little more than six innings and allowed six runs on nine hits, including two home runs. He walked one and struck out six.

July 19 saw the Cubs back home facing the Mets for the second time that month. Arrieta held the Mets scoreless for the first five innings. It was 1-0 Cubs entering the 6th, and he allowed a triple by Jose Reyes, followed by a sac fly by Curtis Granderson to bring Reyes in for the tying run. The Cubs left Arrieta on the mound through the seventh with the score still tied at one. Once again, it was up to the Cubs’ bullpen to hold the Mets until the Cubs could get ahead; Hector Rondon allowed a run in the top of the ninth, and the Cubs couldn’t recover. They lost 2-1, and it was a no decision for Arrieta. Arrieta tallied one run on five hits, while walking one and striking out eight. It really wasn’t a bad game for Arrieta—his bullpen just screwed him over.

July 25 saw the Cubs playing the White Sox. Arrieta started out strong again. He allowed a run in the bottom of the third to make it 1-0, and he held them to that until the bottom of the sixth. He allowed a three-run homer by Todd Frazier to make it 4-0. The Cubs were able to come back and tie it, but allowed the White Sox to score in the bottom of the ninth, making it 5-4 and handing the Cubs another loss. It was another no-decision for Arrieta, who allowed a total of four runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out six.

To close out July, the Cubs were home against the Mariners on July 30. Arrieta pitched a great game and the game was tied at nothing going into the seventh inning stretch. Then in the top of the eighth, Arrieta walked Mike Zunino and Shawn O’Malley. He was relieved shortly after, but the runners ended up scoring, handing Arrieta two runs on his stats and making the score 2-1 Mariners. The Cubs’ bullpen gave another outstanding performance (sarcasm font), and the game ended with a Cubs loss 4-1. Arrieta’s final stats included two runs on two hits, while walking three and striking out four.

Thank goodness for August! Pretty sure Arrieta was glad to kick July in the butt on its way out. August 6 had him pitching to the A’s in Oakland. He kept the A’s scoreless through eight innings, allowing just three hits. He walked one and struck out four. So, basically, Arrieta did Arrieta things again. Phew.

Finally, August 12 had the Cubs facing off against the dreaded Cardinals again. Or, as we like to call them, “The Other Frog Team.” Carpenter and Arrieta went head to head yet again, and this time Arrieta came out the winner. While Arrieta held the Cards down from the mound, the Cubs offensively whooped them, with seven runs scored in the first two innings. Arrieta gave up a home run to Piscotty in the top of the fifth and pitched into the sixth. That one run turned meaningless quickly, as the Cubs continued scoring runs and won the game 13-2. Arrieta totaled one run on four hits over 5 23 innings. He walked two and struck out six.

So all is well in Chicago at the moment. The Chicago bullpen ranks #1 in pitching for the season thus far, even after a crazy July.

Arrieta’s ERA is currently 2.55 with a 1.03 WHIP. You can see his full stats here.