Since steamrolling his way through the second half of the 2015 season, Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has been in the thick of the conversation for the best pitcher in baseball. Arrieta rode his success to a 2015 National League Cy Young Award, beating out Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.
Arrieta’s dominant stretch has extended into 2016 and includes a second career no-hitter thrown in his past 11 starts. His first no-hitter came at the expense of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015.
It included some controversy as a Kiké Hernandez’s hard-hit line drive to second base ate up Starlin Castro in the third inning. Of course at the time the error was but a blip on the radar.
Arrieta enters Tuesday’s start 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 2.73 FIP and 0.89 WHIP. He won’t go head-to-head with Kershaw and the Cubs don’t draw the Dodgers’ ace, who Arrieta spoke highly of, via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
“He’ll go down as one of the greatest ever,” said Arrieta, who will attempt to improve to 10-0 Tuesday night against Scott Kazmir. “That’s already evident by what he’s done in his career thus far.
“He’s a role model for kids who watch this game and strive to make it to this level. He’s a good guy to watch and follow. He does things the right way. He’s a good person. And he’s a special talent.”
Kershaw is 7-1 with a 1.56 ERA, 1.49 FIP and 0.65 WHIP in 11 starts this season. He went 5-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 65 strikeouts to just two walks over six starts (49.2 innings pitched) in May.
Kershaw leads the Majors with 305 strikeouts, and his 21-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is on pace to shatter Phil Hughes’ 11.63 ratio set with the Minnesota Twins in 2014. Meanwhile, Arrieta faces the Dodgers for the first time since throwing the no-hitter against them.
The Dodgers managed just one hit off Jason Hammel, with Cubs relievers Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon combining to throw seven perfect innings of relief. Chicago pitchers also combined to retire the last 25 batters faced.