The Cubs won’t be getting the 2015-16 version of Jake Arrieta this year. They know that, and I hope you know that. He’s five years older and the inexorable march of time takes talent away from the best of professional athletes.
But it certainly appears the Cubs could be getting something akin to the 2017 version of Jake, and that was a pretty darn good pitcher who had 2.8 bWAR that season and threw very well in the postseason against the Nationals and Dodgers.
Jake threw four efficient innings against the Indians Thursday afternoon, allowing one run, issuing no walks and striking out five, and the Cubs came away with a 4-3 win.
The Cubs wasted no time taking the lead in this game. With one out in the top of the first, David Bote sent the first pitch he saw in the general direction of Phoenix Goodyear Airport [VIDEO].
If you’ve never been to Goodyear Ballpark, there’s a general aviation airport beyond the outfield walls that also serves as an airplane “boneyard” for commercial jets not in use. Here’s a photo I took of that “boneyard” from Goodyear Ballpark in March 2016:
The Indians tied the game off Jake in the fourth and then Dillon Maples took over in the fifth. The inning he threw sums up the entire issue with Maples. He can be dominant at times, then something weird happens and he winds up giving up runs. In this appearance, he threw his first eight pitches for strikes and was one strike away from an immaculate inning when he hit Bradley Zimmer with a pitch. The next hitter, Ben Gamel, doubled into the left-center field gap, scoring a run to give Cleveland a 2-1 lead. Maples struck out Bobby Bradley to end the inning, so he wound up striking out the side and didn’t walk anyone, but...
I still hope Maples makes this team. He’s got fantastic stuff and a great slider and he really is thisclose to figuring things out, in my view. BCB’s Sara Sanchez will have more on Maples tomorrow.
The Cubs took the lead back in the sixth. Eric Sogard singled and Bote was hit by a pitch and then Jake Marisnick sent a ball nearly as far as Bote had earlier [VIDEO].
That was off lefty Oliver Perez. Marisnick has hit lefties pretty well in his career (.417 SLG, 24 HR in 648 at-bats). His value is in defense, but if he can hit vs. LHP, he’ll be a significant upgrade over Albert Almora Jr. as a fourth outfielder.
Bote, Sogard and Marisnick accounted for four of the Cubs’ six hits on the afternoon, which is fine, given that two of those three will be on the Opening Day roster and the other (Sogard) has a chance to be there. The guys who needed to get ready for the season did so Thursday afternoon and bench guys finished things up. Among those “needed to get ready” guys was Brandon Workman, who threw a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts. Workman’s the guy the Cubs will likely go to as closer if Craig Kimbrel fails again.
Jason Adam also threw a scoreless frame in this one. Trevor Megill allowed a run in the ninth (on a long fly ball that came close to being a walkoff homer) but finished things off. Overall Cubs pitchers struck out 16 Cleveland hitters in this game.
Here are some thoughts from Jake Arrieta about his outing Thursday:
Jake Arrieta tossed four innings vs. CLE, striking out five without a walk. He says the work he’s put in with his delivery has allowed his curveball to be more effective, which it was today. Full quote below. #Cubs pic.twitter.com/dg2hw1KSIv— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) March 18, 2021
I’m not sure where Jake’s fastball was sitting, because there was no pitch-speed meter on the broadcast and the Cleveland announcers didn’t mention it. But he sure looked good to me.
The Cubs travel to HoHoKam Stadium in Mesa to face the Athletics Friday afternoon. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Frankie Montas will go for Oakland. Game time is again 3;05 p.m. CT and the game can be followed on “A’s Cast” on MLB.com. No TV Friday.