CHICAGO — I’ve written about Jake Arrieta a lot this weekend. I wrote how the Pirates might be able to counter him and win against the Cubs in the Wild Card game. I wrote how Gregory Polanco could be a factor in beating him. I wrote about the potential advantage the Pirates could get from seeing him three times in three weeks. And I wrote about how his success almost makes the rest of the season meaningless if they don’t win the division, since he’s going to be a tough draw in the Wild Card game.

Obviously the Pirates could still win the division, and after tonight’s outing, you can see why that’s such a preferable option. You don’t want to face Jake Arrieta in a one game playoff. But the division is still a bit of a long-shot, since they’d have to sweep the Cardinals and basically win the next six games to lock that down. And that’s why Arrieta is such a big story, because if the Pirates don’t pull off an amazing week this week, then their entire season comes down to facing the best pitcher in baseball, who is on a historic run.

Arrieta showed how dangerous he can be tonight. The best way to describe just how good he is, and what makes him so good, is to let the players and managers do the talking.

Clint Hurdle

On what was working for him tonight…

“He was hitting spots. That slider plays so well. The fastball velocity is there. And it’s real. The cut fastball and the slider. There’s one he throws faster than the other one. Just good glove-side command. Sharp, late tilt with depth.”

On the similarities from the last outing to tonight…

“He’s been efficient. We watched the tape from the last outing. He’s having a big year for them. He’s commanding, more often than not, all his pitches. We had one shot at it. After Polanco singled, and a hit by pitch, Ramirez smoked the ball, but it was right at the shortstop to make a play and get out of the inning. That was the only opportunity we had to push him.”

On what makes him so good…

“The arm angle is pretty consistent. You’re talking about also trying to [hit] 97 at times when it goes. There’s some weapons there that you’ve gotta hope he makes mistakes. I don’t think he’s made a lot of mistakes. Or when you get a point like that, if Ramirez catches that ball a quarter lower on the ball, it’s not on the ground, it’s in the air. Those are the kind of things you need to have happen to get a guy like him when he’s pitching as efficiently as he is.”

A.J. Burnett

On the home run that Arrieta hit off him…

“He can hit. I left one over, and he hit it. I mean, I got one this year, so it happens. Ball came right over the middle of the plate, and he put a good swing on it. He almost hit two of them.”

On what it’s like to face him…

“You want to go up against the best. He’s having a great year, and he’s got great stuff. And make sure he puts you on your game too. That’s why you play the game, so you have matchups like this. You can go against Jake Arrieta. And it’s been almost every time, it seems like it. He’s put together quite a year.”

On whether you keep the same approach against him as you would against anyone else…

“For the most part, you try to…treat it like anyone else, but you also know at the same time that it’s going to be a good game, it’s going to be a close game. That’s when you just try to make pitches like I mentioned. Later in the game, guys on base, you want to keep it to two runs. I don’t care who is throwing. These guys are never out of it.”

Gregory Polanco

On the approach to breaking up the no-hitter, and getting a double off him the last game…

“Don’t miss the pitch that he throws. If he throws a pitch in the zone, trying to not miss it.”

On what makes him so difficult…

“He’s got very good stuff, and he mixes it very well…Almost every at-bat I face him, he [pitches] me different.”

Aramis Ramirez

On the run he’s had in the second half…

“I played for a long time. I’ve seen guys like that. But he’s been able to do something special here. He’s one of the main reasons they are where they are as a team. He’s got 21 wins. Sub-2.00 ERA. He’s got good stuff.”

What makes Arrieta so good…

“He’s the whole package. He’s got good stuff, plus stuff on every single pitch. Good cutter, good curve. Plus fastball. 95-96. And he commands it. That’s the key. He doesn’t throw the ball over the middle. He’s in and out. He hits the corners. And that’s why he is where he is right now.”

Summary

Sweep the Cardinals. Win out. Avoid Arrieta in a one game playoff.

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20 COMMENTS

  1. ….Arrieta +HGH + slippery elm on the cap = how a 29 yo 5th round pick who spent 2013 (age 27) in AAA with a 4.5 ERA transform into one of the greatest pitching seasons of all time….sorry, math doesn’t lie chicago……nice cover story spins about how Arrieta “is addicted to working out” – they said the same thing about Bonds back in the day…funny how Boras always seems to have a hand in these serviceable players having historic seasons….my guess is that the beard is hiding the tell tale acne – its not too late for MLB to come clean on this guy, my guess is there is already a positive test with his name on it…of the last 5 players suspended for PED use, 4 have been pitchers…..

    • Nah, stuff was always there, just wasn’t getting the results. A lot of that has to do with how the O’s handle their pitchers, I think. But he’s always had the ++ stuff, the key was locking down his mechanics (isn’t it always?) and commanding the ball regularly. Plus, his peripherals in Baltimore suggested he was extremely unlucky there.

      • Stuff was not always there…he has had a bump of 2-3mph on his fastball/curve/cutter since age 27 which simply does not occur outside of PEDs….Showalter himself admitted that he believed arrieta used what he thought was pine tar on his cap…others believe it is something else alltogether

  2. Anyone else look at Arrieta and feel like he should be pitching with a flannel shirt… His beard is almost the same size as mine. He’s kinda like Jared Hughes in that he looks like a psycho on the mound but a puppy off the field.

  3. Alright you guys.

    Two things that really shape this possible upcoming wild card game.

    We’ve seen Arrieta at his best. We’ve beaten him too. It isn’t about, in my opinion, outhitting him so much as it is about out-pitching him. This comes down to Cole shutting down the Cubs. Two things have to happen for the Cubs to win: They have to shut down the Bucs (hard to do) and they have to score against Cole (hard to do). You get past the starters and the Bucs have a clear advantage.

    PNC had better be a noise chamber and our fans have to be ON the Cubs from jump. Negative energy will affect even a professional player.

    AND I do think we have the guys who can bunt Arrieta and irritate him. Marte, Polanco. When he was in the stretch last night, he plunked Cutch and gave up solid contact to Ramirez. It’s silly to say it, but you gotta get on base against that guy by hook or by crook and see what happens.

    -Wabbit

    • Pitch selection, men on base, PNC becomes a house of noise. He can be beat, and this formula worked with Cueto.
      Sweep the Cards, worry about Arrietta when it becomes reality. He could slam a car door on his hand this week.

  4. Looking at some of the splits, he’s a guy you need to jump on early for any success. I thought the extended rest from now until the WC game might hurt him, but he has good numbers with 6 + days of rest.

    I think they can break through. But they need a good pitching performance from Cole.

  5. It seems that almost all of us … as Pirates fans … are reduced to almost accept the fact that the WC game doesn’t bode well for us. I honestly hate even thinking of such a thing. This seems like such a special year, and yet we are looking at having to deal with one of the greatest pitchers any of us have seen in years. It just doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t! But maybe our Bucs win out and avoid that pitcher.

    You have to earn it, and the great WS winning teams do regardless of the pitchers and teams they face. The Pirates can absolutely be one of those teams!

    • I personally am pretty optimistic about this. IF we end up in the WC I think it’s a coin flip at worst. Probably tilted a little towards us because of the home field. Is Arrietta scary? Of course. But so is Cole and so is our offensive capability. Biggest thing of all…I think this team is on a mission. And a lot of those Cubbies live up to that name…not fully grown yet.

  6. Arrieta pitched an exceptional game, and it wasn’t just the results. He lived on the edges. He might have missed in the middle of the plate three or four times all game, and two of them were in McCutchen’s first at bat (and he took them both).

    But he throws two different fastballs with similar velocity and different movement. When the guy’s living on the edges at 96, and you don’t know whether it’s going to come toward you or go away, and he’s got two plus breaking pitches to keep your timing off, man, that’s tough to hit.

    • Runners on first and second, one out. Ramirez at bat. Drag bunt or sacrifice bunt? No, hit a way which he did….into a double play ending the inning.
      Any statistics how many double plays result with runners on first and second? No outs, or one out?
      Pirates are not a bunting team period, end of comment.

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