“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” — Post-Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh
Jake Arrieta, who was once a top prospect in the Orioles system before being discarded by Baltimore and traded to the Cubs, has followed a series of steps — hard work, determination and an intense drive to succeed— to be regarded as one of the best pitchers in the game. The Cubs ace right-hander added a few more strokes of brilliance to his unfinished 2015 season with his first career no-hitter against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
His hitless gem was the 14th in Cubs history and it gave Arrieta National League leading totals in wins (17), complete games (3) and shutouts (2). During his no-hit performance, he fanned 12 batters to bring his season total to 190, fourth in the N.L., and lowered his ERA to 2.11, second in the majors behind Zack Greinke’s 1.61.
Arrieta and Greinke are the leading candidates for the senior circuit’s Cy Young honors, and here is how their numbers compare entering September.
Pitcher W-L ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Arrieta 17-6 2.11 27 183.0 128 49 43 9 44 190 0.94
Greinke 14-3 1.61 26 179.1 121 34 32 10 31 164 0.85
The final four or five starts could determine the outcome of the voting for the award, with a final determination being on the Cubs and Dodgers both locking up playoff invitations and the final win total for the two hurlers.
Arrieta is on pace for 20 victories, a more rare achievement in today’s game than in past years. If he can reach that plateau, he will become only the 16th pitcher in Cubs history, since 1920 when the live ball era began, to have a 20-win season, and the first since Jon Leiber, who went 20-6 for the 2001 Cubs.
If Arrieta can capture enough votes to take home the Cy Young award, he would become only the fifth pitcher, since the award was first presented in 1956, to win Cy Young honors and throw a no-hitter in the same season. The others to accomplish this are Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers (1963, 1965), Roy Halladay, Phillies (2010), Justin Verlander, Tigers (2011) and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (2014).
Another note on Arrieta’s no-hitter on Aug. 30, 2015 is that he is only the second pitcher since 1900 to strike out the side in order to end a no-hit game. The other pitcher to do it was Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers, against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium—almost 50 years to the day (Sept. 9, 1965) since Arrieta duplicated the feat.
“I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at,” said Arrieta. “I want to continue to get better and help this group of guys get to the playoffs and win a title. I’ve felt strong all year and I’ve had good command in my starts. I’ve also had the benefit of my teammates playing well behind me, both defensively and offensively.”
In Arrieta’s first 27 starts this season, the Cubs have averaged four runs per game and committed 19 errors—12 of those miscues came with Arrieta on the mound and seven with relievers closing out the games.
In August, Arrieta captured MLB’s Pitcher of the Month honors in the National League with a 6-0 record, 0.43 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 42.1 innings pitched. If he can maintain that consistency in his final starts, he should closeout his best major league campaign with the N.L. Cy Young, which would add a touch of artistic mastery to his season that Vincent Van Gogh would be proud of.
Striking Out the Side In Order in Final Inning of No-Hitter
Pitcher, Team Date Opposing Hitters, Team
Jake Arrieta, Cubs Aug. 30, 2015 Justin Turner, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Dodgers
Sandy Koufax, Dodgers Sept. 9, 1965 Chris Krug, Joey Amalfitano, Harvey Kuenn, Cubs
Note: Chris Heston of the Giants struck out the side in the final inning of his no-hitter on June 9, 2015, but not in order. The first batter he faced in the ninth inning, he hit with a pitch.