Before the weekend, the Arizona Diamondbacks pointed to Jake Arrieta as a perfect role model for what the organization hopes their young pitchers can turn into.
The 29-year-old Cubs ace proved why he deserved that level of praise again Saturday afternoon as he dominated the D-Backs in a 2-0 Cubs win in front of 40,690 fans at Wrigley Field.
Arrieta followed up his first career no-hitter Sunday with another gem Saturday, allowing just four hits in eight shutout innings.
He has not given up an earned run in his last four starts, a span of 29 innings.
"It's as good as you're gonna get on the major-league level," manager Joe Maddon said.
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Arrieta picked up right where he left off in August, when he was 6-0 with an 0.43 ERA in the month.
It was the 15th consecutive quality start and he has a 0.99 ERA over his last 14 starts (a span of 109 innings).
Arrieta has now won seven consecutive starts and improved to 18-6 on the season, lowering his overall ERA to 2.03 and WHIP to 0.92 in the process.
Has he done enough to put himself firmly in the conversation for National League Cy Young alongside Dodgers stars Zack Greinke (15-3, 1.59 ERA, 0.846 WHIP) and Clayton Kershaw (12-6, 2.18 ERA, 0.897 WHIP)?
"It's hard for me to fathom that somebody's better than Jake Arrieta," catcher David Ross said. "I know numbers are numbers and there's some guys in L.A. that are doing a really good job, but I'll take [Arrieta] on the mound any day of the week."
Maddon is not one to talk about individual awards or look too far ahead to the end of the season, but even he admitted Arrieta has to be in the conversation for the league's top pitcher.
"Absolutely," Maddon said before comparing Arrieta's run to what he's seen in the past with David Price and James Shields in Tampa Bay. "I've seen guys really good. [This stretch] is right up there with the best that I've seen and I've had. He's been awesome, absolutely awesome.
"When the conversation [for NL CY] occurs, his name would be - I would guess - Top 3 with everybody. It's just a matter of how you want to apply your vote. And there's still some time left."
Arrieta said he got over the no-hitter pretty quickly, to the point where he was sick of talking about it two days later and was instead focused on watching video of the Diamondbacks. He wants to sit back and reflect on the accomplishment after the season ends.
Will he also be reflecting on a Cy Young Award in his trophy case?
Nobody knows yet, but he acknowledges that it's nice to even be in the conversation.
"It means you're doing something right, so yeah, it's a good thing," Arrieta said. But at the end of the day, all that's great, but if we do things in the playoffs, that's an even greater sense of accomplishment as a team.
"That's really what we're all focused on. The other things just kinda happen and take care of themselves with everything we have going on here. Winning ballgames is really our most important task at hand."