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The best moments of Jake Arrieta's Cubs career

Cody Delmendo Avatar
April 19, 2022

Jake Arrieta said on Monday that he’s planning to retire from playing professional baseball. The former National League Cy Young Winner broke the news while appearing on the “Pardon My Take” podcast.

Arrieta was a major contributor to the Cubs’ success from 2013 to 2017, when he posted a 3.14 ERA over the course of 148 starts, compiled 867 strikeouts and went 73-42 as a Chicago starter. He was must-see television every fifth day during most of his tenure and was a crucial part of the team’s success in winning the World Series in 2016.

There are many moments from his tenure that fans will always remember, but what are the best?

June 30, 2014: Jake enters the chat

Many casual fans forget before Arrieta’s Cy Young season in 2015, the bearded righty really started to take off in 2014. The most memorable moment of that season was his near no-hitter against the Red Sox at Fenway Park at the end of June.

Arrieta entered the eighth inning with a no-hitter, but eventually gave up a hit to Stephen Drew — who was hitting just .133 — on his 120th pitch of the night. If he had completed the feat, Arrieta would have become the first opposing pitcher to record a no-hitter at Fenway since 1958. He struck out 10 batters and only walked one. It was the fourth consecutive start Arrieta had pitched seven-plus innings, earning the win in all four.

“I mean, talk about an ace,” Cubs manager David Ross told reporters at Wrigley Field before Tuesday’s game against the Rays. “I had to face him in Boston when he almost no-hit Boston. One of the nastiest guys I’ve ever seen.”

Arrieta went on to post a 10-5 record in 156.2 innings, finishing with a 2.56 ERA in 25 starts for the rebuilding Cubs in 2014. At that point, it was far and away his best season in the big leagues after many struggles in Baltimore. He finished with a 5.3 fWAR. Only Jordan Zimmerman and Clayton Kershaw finished higher among NL starting pitchers.

His start in Boston was just the beginning of what was to come.

Aug. 30, 2015: Hollywood takeover

In the beginning of what was one of the most dominating stretches for a pitcher, Arrieta went into Dodgers Stadium and earned his first career no-hitter and the first no-hitter for a Cubs pitcher since Carlos Zambrano in 2008.

Arrieta dominated the Dodgers lineup that included Adrian Gonzalez, Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, all left-handed batters. He struck out 12 hitters while only walking one. It was the second time in nine days the Dodgers had been no-hit.

And it was televised on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. In front of a national audience, Arrieta solidified his place in the NL Cy Young chase after this start.

Oct. 7, 2015: It doesn’t matter

Arrieta did not waste any time making an impact in his first playoff game with the Cubs. After the soon-to-be-named NL Cy Young Award winner chirped some Pirates fans on Twitter, he backed it up on the diamond, tossing a complete game shut out and giving Chicago its first playoff win since 2003.

“Probably one of the biggest outings ever for this organization had to be Pittsburgh (in the) Wild Card game, right?” Ross told reporters. “If you’re going back to the evolution of that team, him just basically going in there and putting us on his back. We scored some runs for him, and he was absolutely dominant.”

His outing helped the Cubs snap a nine-game postseason losing streak and it came in front of the largest crowd ever at PNC Park. His dominating performance left the Pirates so frustrated that reliever Tony Watson hit Arrieta with a pitch on his left side in the seventh inning with the Cubs leading. The benches and bullpens cleared and Sean Rodriguez was ejected. Rodriguez then had his infamous tantrum with the dugout Gatorade cooler.

This is the night the Pirates were pushed off the deck and, ironically, have never got out of the water since, posting losing seasons in five of the last six seasons since that unforgettable night.

April 21, 2016: Enough already

It was a night Cubs fans and probably even Reds fans will never forget. In 2016, the Cubs started the season by going 17-5 in April. Chicago got one of those 17 wins — the most dominant of them all — on this night.

Arrieta, coming off three consecutive outings of at least seven innings pitched to start the season, added to his historical run, as he no-hit the Reds in Cincinnati on a chilly April night.

It was also a game in which the Cubs scored 16 runs. Yes, 16 runs. Chicago dominated the Cincinnati in 2016, going 15-4 while scoring 143 runs against the Reds, which was the most they scored on any team they faced that year.

Arrieta added to his dominance that night in easy fashion, striking out six en route to his second career no-hitter.

Oct. 10, 2016: Pitchers who rake

Cubs fans will never forget the 2016 World Series run. Throughout the month of October, many moments stand out.

No one will forget Game 7 in Cleveland. No one will forget Kyle Hendricks’ dominance en route to clinching the NL pennant against the Dodgers. No one will forget the ninth-inning comeback against the Giants in Game 4.

And almost certainly, no one will forget Arrieta’s homer off of one of the greatest postseason pitchers of this generation, Madison Bumgarner.

Let’s set the scene. Bumgarner had a career 2.11 ERA in 16 career games in October. The southpaw had a career 0.25 ERA in 36 World Series innings. He was one of the best. But in Game 3, Arrieta got the best of him by launching a three-run homer into the seats in San Francisco.

The Giants went on to win this game, but Arrieta hit the first long ball by an opposing pitcher off Bumgarner in seven-plus major league seasons. He couldn’t have picked better timing. His homer also ended Bumgarner’s 24-inning postseason scoreless streak and his separate streak of 24 shutout innings with the Giants facing postseason elimination.

One of the greatest stretches of all-time

“Jake Day” was just different on the North Side. Arrieta had arguably the greatest stretch of starts we will ever see again in a Cubs uniform and perhaps even baseball history. From June 21, 2015, to May 20, 2016, Arrieta maintained a 0.99 ERA over a 29-start stretch. He went 24-1 with two no-hitters during that span. His only loss came on July 25, 2015, when Chicago was no-hit by Cole Hamels.

“I think every once in a while, we say, ‘So and so is pitching like 2015 Arrieta,’ and then, all of sudden, you read his actual numbers during that period and you realize no one actually ever pitches like that,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer told reporters at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. “We knew it at the time that we’ll never see something like that again, probably, in our career, and I think that’s going to be accurate.”

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