Cubs

Jake Arrieta fires back at questions about his velocity

Jake Arrieta fires back at questions about his velocity

MILWAUKEE – Jake Arrieta is a nonconformist, trolling opposing fans on Twitter, developing his own Pilates/nutrition program, posing naked for ESPN the Magazine, openly talking about his contract and apparently reading what’s written about him.   

Or at least this article on FanGraphs – the website devoted to statistical analysis – caught his attention: “What on Earth Happened with Jake Arrieta?

Arrieta speaks in full paragraphs, looks like he could be heading toward the zone that once made him a Cy Young Award winner and dismisses any questions or theories about his low-90s velocity readings.

“Everybody wants to talk about this,” Arrieta said after Sunday’s 7-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “There’s FanGraph articles. I don’t care about that.

“I know that kind of stuff can come and go from time to time. I had periods last year where I was at the same spot I am right now. I had one in June, near the All-Star break. It is what it is. I still have good feel for everything. Movement is really good. The command’s good.

“When the 95-to-97 comes back, it’s going to be tough for teams. And it still is.”

Manager Joe Maddon put it this way after watching Arrieta use 98 pitches to get through seven innings and finish with 10 strikeouts against only two walks: “I’d much rather see what we saw today than 94-95 (mph) all over the map, absolutely.”

Even during an All-Star year that saw him beat the Cleveland Indians twice in the World Series, Arrieta had too many of those unpredictable stretches where he lost command and that air of invincibility.

The Cubs staked Arrieta an early five-run lead and he didn’t allow another hit after Ryan Braun’s three-run homer in the third inning. Whatever the radar gun says, Arrieta is starting his salary drive at 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA.  

“Where I’m at now in my career, I don’t worry about it, because I know that I’m smart enough to work around that,” Arrieta said. “The velocity’s still good enough to get it by guys and to do certain things in certain situations with it.

“If I’m commanding the ball on the inside part of the plate to left-handed hitters with some sink – like I was able to with a couple big strikeouts (where they’re) taking third strikes in – that’s a big deal.”

In Arrieta’s mind, he has an array of weapons, from a curveball he can drop at 75 or 82 mph, a cutter that can be effective in the right spot at 84 or 90 mph and a changeup that he’s still trying to sharpen.

Arrieta’s case for a long-term megadeal that could take him into his late 30s revolves around his baseball IQ, superior conditioning and relatively low pitching odometer.

“Some guys would call it like a ‘dead arm,’ but I feel good,” Arrieta said. “That’s all I’m worried about.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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