The moment the Phillies signed former Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, there were fans who expressed their excitement, but there were also fans who disagreed with the move. No one questioned how great of a resume the veteran right-hander had, but a down year in 2017 is what fans feared. Through 4 starts in the 2018 season, those people have stopped complaining.
Back in 2015 when Arrieta won the Cy Young Award with a 22-6 record and a 1.77 ERA, he complimented his off-speed pitches with a lights out fastball. Since then, there has been a noticeable difference in terms of the velocity behind his pitches. It was so alarming that people around baseball wondered if the end was near for Arrieta. Well… they were wrong.
Through 4 starts this season, the former Cub has posted a 3-0 record with an incredible 1.82 ERA. His name can be found in the top 10 for starting pitchers that have thrown at least 20 innings in the following categories: Earned Runs (3rd), Hits (6th) ERA (10th), Wins (T-8). The season is young, but Arrieta is already showing that he is worth the big contract.
What makes his great start even more impressive was his late arrival to Spring Training. Remember, the Phillies did not sign Arrieta until March 11th. The team had already reported to camp well before that date and started playing games on February 23rd. With that late arrival to camp, the right-hander did not make his debut until March 22nd which was just 7 days before the start of the regular season.
After struggling in his first start of the 2018 regular season, Arrieta has settled down and showed a glimpse of how dominant he can be. In his 3rd start, Arrieta pitched 7 shutout innings and struck out 10 batters in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Games like that are what you would expect out of the former Cy Young award winner back in 2015, and it shows that he is not out of gas. He may not have the same fastball that he did 3 seasons ago, but you are seeing him adapt into being a craftier pitcher.
If we can see starts like we did last night (7IP, 4H, 3R, 1ER, 2K, 2BB), we will see the Phillies in a position to win every game he steps on the mound. Last night was a perfect example when he left the game with a 2 run lead. Arrieta gave manager Gabe Kapler the opportunity to go to his bullpen for just 6 outs to close out the game. It is important for a manager to have a starting pitcher like Arrieta where you can depend on them to go that extra inning to help save the arms in the bullpen, and he is doing that.
With such a young starting rotation, the Phillies will look at Jake Arrieta to give them a chance to compete every week. Not only will the fans have a reason to go out to a game, the young players on the team will get an extra boost of confidence every game he is slated to start. The Phillies are already surprising a lot of fans with their hot start to the 2018 season and that success could continue throughout the year. We are used to seeing dominant starts from Aaron Nola. Now add that with the early success of Arrieta and the bullpen and we could be talking about this team all summer in a positive way.
- Andrew Salciunas - Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com - Host of "Walking Off": A Philly Baseball Podcast on 975thefanatic.com
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