The Cubs altered the trajectory of their franchise with the trade that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore in exchange for Jake Arrieta back in 2013.
Arrieta won a Cy Young Award in 2015 and threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds last season en route to earning a World Series ring with the Cubs. Feldman just barely kept his ERA under 4.00 in each of last three seasons.
But Friday night in Cincinnati, it was Feldman who turned in a dominant performance against his former team during a season where Arrieta is still struggling to perform on a consistent basis.
The Cubs' offense, which has been so hit-or-miss during this roller-coaster ride of a season, was again missing in action in the 5-0 loss, mustering just three hits on the night, all of them coming after Feldman recorded the first two outs of the sixth inning.
Yes, Feldman was on no-hitter alert against the defending champs, a far cry from his first start against his former mates earlier this season, when he gave up seven runs — five of them earned — in just 2.2 innings of work back on May 17. Friday, he lasted seven innings, striking out seven Cubs hitters and allowing just two hits and two walks while keeping a zero on the scoreboard.
Until Ian Happ singled in the sixth, Feldman was cruising toward replicating what Arrieta did last year at Great American Ballpark.
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Three games have gone by since Arrieta's last outing, an ugly performance in which he couldn't get out of the fifth inning against a first-place Washington Nationals team. While no one in their right mind would ever suggest tradebacks in that legendary (or infamous, if you're an Orioles fan) Arrieta-Feldman swap, look at these 2017 numbers: Feldman has a 3.78 ERA after Friday night's outing, while Arrieta's nearly a full point higher at 4.67.
With Kyle Hendricks on the disabled list, Arrieta and John Lackey finding success elusive on a start-by-start basis and Mike Montgomery — four runs allowed in 6.2 innings on Friday — and Eddie Butler not exactly doing a terrific job of holding down the fort, seeing a former Cub do this to the current crop of North Siders might have stung just a little bit.
Of course, the Cubs don't want to trade places with the Reds, who at 34-45 are dead last in the National League Central.