We’ve discussed the pitching situation for the Cubs in a few blogs. I wrote a blog here, Cat Garcia wrote one here, and John has written several over the years on the subject. Pitching is definitely the less glamorous subject when it comes to Cubs’ prospects. There is a lack of impact starters in the Cubs system, and even the higher end guys like Tseng and Underwood have a lot of development time in front of them before they are ready to contribute.
It’s made the Jake Arrieta conversation an interesting one when trying to project the next competitive Cubs starting rotation. Arrieta came over from Baltimore as a prime change of scenery candidate as he struggled with consistency with the Orioles. He pitched well enough for the Cubs in 51.2 innings last year as he posted a 3.66 ERA but it came with an uninspiring 4.94 FIP.
We all know what has occurred this year. Arrieta is in the process of taking a massive leap forward in all things as he has pulled together his repertoire and found consistency with his stuff. He has a 2.12 ERA in 85 innings, a FIP that’s barely above his ERA at 2.14, and a 27.7 percent strike out rate and a 7.4 percent walk rate. There’s been a change in approach this year as he’s using his deadly slider more often and locating his stuff very well.
His breakout has prompted a discussion on where he fits with the Cubs long term. It’s certainly possible that he’s #1 on their depth charts when they’re competing for a playoff spot. That wouldn’t neccesarily reflect a failure by the Cubs to get a true ace, rather it could reflect on how far Arrieta has come in a Cubs uniform.
Arrieta’s gains seem more real with each start as he continues to clear hurdles with his performance. I think he can be the anchor for a future Cubs rotation if they don’t get a Jon Lester or a James Shields in free agency this year. There have been a few thoughts on trading him that I’ve seen. I don’t agree with this course of action as I don’t think the Cubs are able to get an equal return of a similar age for Arrieta.
The Cubs will have to fill in the slots behind Arrieta in the near future. It would seem, however, that they already added a top of the rotation arm in Arrieta.
Filed under: Analysis