Players on bad teams can be a gold mine for owners looking to bolster their rosters with overlooked players. There are few players who have posted better numbers than the Chicago Cubs Jake Arrieta.
Jake Arrieta, has a 1.81 ERA through 11 starts. after opening the season on the disabled list. Monday night against the Red Sox, he was four outs away from a no-hitter at Fenway Park. The previous start versus the Cincinatti Reds he took a perfect game into the seventh inning.
He has nearly been unhittable in his last two starts and posted huge fantasy numbers in June for owners who were smart enough to grab him. In 39.1 innings pitched this past month, Arrieta has struck out 48 batters, while walking only six. Hitters have reached base only 19% of the time thanks to a career low walk rate at 6.5%.
Arrieta — at one time — was a terrible starter, posting a 5.41 ERA, with a walk rate above 10% during a three year span with the Baltimore Orioles. He had always been a top pitching prospect in the Orioles system but never reached his true potential in Baltimore.
No one in baseball could have predicted the turn around that has happened to Jake Arrieta this season. Along with a career best walk rate, he has posted career best in strikeout’s at 27.8% and a stellar ground-ball rate at 51%.
The difference maker has been the substantial increase in the use of his cutter. He is throwing it three times more than he did last year currently at 21%. He has actually increased the use of the cutter by more than 100% in the month of June. It is not a coincidence that he took the baseball world by storm during the month of June by increasing the use of his cutter, that according to Fangraphs, ranks among the top five in all of baseball.
The combination of him moving to the National League and the emergence of an elite pitch makes him a completely different pitcher than what we have seen from him in the past. You can’t go by past statistics to determine what he will do going forward.
You will see elite numbers from him in the second half of the season based on his ground ball rate and his ability to keep hitters from reaching base. He will post an ERA around 3 with an elite WHIP in the same class as Julio Teheran, Josh Beckett and Tim Hudson. His strikeout numbers will shine and don’t be surprised to see him have a few double digit strikeout outings at Wrigley Field and on the road.
If you do not already own him, I would try to acquire him for the second half of the season. If an owner asks for an elite player, in a trade for you to be able to get him, you won’t be making a bad decision. He is a must own player for your team as we enter the second half of the season.