Jake Arrieta cares not for the expectations placed upon him by other people.
He operates solely on his own insane expectations.
As if to reiterate how "insane," the reigning National League Cy Young winner and current Major League Baseball ERA leader said he has actually had three-to-four starts with "bad" stuff in 2016.
Yes, the guy with the 1.29 ERA and four starts removed from his second no-hitter in the last calendar year has said he's had "bad" stuff in half of his starts this season.
"That's part of being a starter," Arrieta said Thursday morning in Milwaukee. "The old cliche - you're gonna have 10 [starts] where you're good, 10 where you're average and 10 where you're bad - as far as stuff goes.
"You can still win those games when you don't have your best stuff and that's what I've already done three or four times this year."
An incredulous reporter followed up, clairfying that Arrieta has already had some "bad" starts this season.
"Yeah, of course," the 30-year-old right-hander said as if it were obvious. "If you can't tell that it's one the nights where I haven't been as sharp as I'd like, that's what you're going for. You want to present to the other team and people in the stadium that you were on your game that night, regardless of how you actually feel.
"I've been able to disguise that well and kind of put my best foot forward regardless of my stuff that night and still get wins."
Arrieta is tied with Stephen Strasburg for the NL lead with seven wins in eight starts (plus a no-decision) and only White Sox ace Chris Sale (9-0) has more victories here in mid-May.
Arrieta's 1.29 ERA is .25 points lower than the next-closest guy (White Sox lefty Jose Quintana - 1.54). However, the Cubs ace is only third in the big leagues in WHIP (0.84), behind Clayton Kershaw (0.70) and Sale (0.72).
Part of that is because Arrieta has walked 18 batters in 56 innings, including multiple free passes in five straight starts (three of which he walked four hitters).
Arrieta takes the mound Friday night, looking to be something of a stopper against the San Francisco Giants after a rough week for the Cubs.
Joe Maddon pointed to the Cubs' four-game sweep of the Giants at Wrigley Field last August as a major turning point in the season.
That was the weekend Starlin Castro was benched and Addison Russell became the Cubs' shortstop. It was also when Maddon started managing like the Cubs were already in the playoffs, removing Jason Hammel after allowing only two runs and five baserunners in four innings.
"I definitely felt it going into that series," Maddon said. "We took Jason out early that one game when I thought we had to. Kind of like a momentum/paradigm shift the way we were thinking at that particular time in general.
"That was a good thing. We were doing good, but we had to do a little bit more than that. You never want guys to just be satisfied with this nice little thing you got going on.
"[Wednesday night's 13-inning thriller] is a classic example. We could easily have emailed it in. I'm really proud of our guys regarding that."
The Cubs were hoping Wednesday's five-hour, 2-1 victory was going to be a springboard to get back on track after a little hiccup, but the feeling was short-lived thanks to Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Brewers.
The Giants sit atop the NL West at 25-18, riding the high of an eight-game winning streak.
But the ultra-confident Arrieta is ready for the showdown in San Francisco, talking casually about his start in between his claims that he's had "bad" outings and a brief discussion about how he'd like to connect with Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews to do some Pilates.
"We're two really good teams going at it in their park," Arrieta said. "It's gonna be a battle.
"I don't really remember that [series at Wrigley last year] very well. It's a new series. New team, new year. We're tough to beat. They're good, too, so we're gonna be ready.