CHICAGO (AP) — Each start was remarkably similar. That smooth, efficient motion. The devastating array of pitches. The easy cool that quickly spreads to his teammates, who are so confident when he takes the mound.
A year after a disappointing departure from Baltimore, Jake Arrieta is thriving in Chicago.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander is unbeaten in his last eight starts after beginning the season on the disabled list due to shoulder tightness, providing a glimmer of hope as the lowly Cubs stumbled to last place in the NL Central at the All-Star break.
"Jake knows it now, he's our new horse and that's what we want," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "We want him to be that ace and just keep getting all the confidence in the world because he's pitching very confident right now and it's been fun to watch."
Arrieta's undefeated stretch began with one of his shortest outings of the season, when he lasted just 4 2-3 innings on June 3 against the New York Mets. He gave up seven hits and walked three, but he allowed just one first-inning run in Chicago's 2-1 victory.
Then he really put on a show.
Arrieta pitched six shutout innings against Miami, and seven more against Philadelphia. He retired his first 18 batters in a victory over Cincinnati. He was so good against the Red Sox that the fans at Fenway Park saluted him with a loud ovation when he departed after Boston's first hit with two out in the eighth.
Heading into Sunday's start at Arizona, Arrieta is 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA and a .160 opponents' batting average during his impressive six-week run.
"He's got a good slider and he's got a very deceptive way that he comes at you," Reds All-Star catcher Devin Mesoraco said. "It's really cross-bodied and it's almost like he's throwing from behind you, so it's a heck of an angle to try to hit the ball from, especially for a right-hander."
Arrieta's repertoire includes a fastball that sits in the low 90s, a big curveball and a circle changeup that he mixes in to prevent hitters from sitting on his fastball. But it's that slider and his ability to use it as a cut fastball that has been particularly effective.
"It's a cutter and a slider depending on what I want it to be," he said, before running through how he uses it in different situations. "It's one pitch, but I can throw it multiple different ways at different velocities."
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