Jake Arrieta a Lock For Cy Young

Getty Images Sport Jim McIsaac

Go ahead, start tallying up the votes. You can crunch all the numbers you want among the top candidates, including Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.

Jake Arrieta is going to take the cake for the 2015 NL Cy Young. Here’s why: 1.88 ERA — 0.86 ERA since the All-Star Break.

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Tuesday night, Arrieta hit that elusive 20 win mark of the 2015 season, as the Chicago Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0, and Jake continued his impressive streak of 18 quality starts.

Typically consideration for the Cy Young takes more into account than win/loss records, but 20 is a nice, round number. It sticks out to the voters. A pitcher having a great season doesn’t just luck into 20 wins.

The fact Jake will likely be the only pitcher in Major League Baseball to reach that milestone for this season helps his case for the Cy Young. Prior to August, when Jake started to rack up the milestones, and the already great ERA began shrinking into Greinke-territory, I considered Greinke the top candidate for the award.

Zack had the shutout streak of 45 2/3 innings, he possesses the ridiculous ERA of 1.65 and his own sterling record of 18-3.

I was fortunate to catch his start live in Washington back in July, when he and the Los Angeles Dodgers went up against Max Scherzer and the Nationals. Greinke was on point, and to me, the Cy Young winner. If a pitcher with a 1.65 ERA and only three losses is not the odds-on-favorite, you know someone is having a special season.

Arrieta co-leads MLB with four complete games, leads MLB with three shutouts — his three are the most since Greg Maddux’s Cubs’ record of four in 1992. His no-hitter against the Dodgers last month adds to the allure that is Arrieta this year. Perhaps Jake’s most impressive attribute is his ability to get better as the game goes on.

This season would mark the most innings Arrieta has thrown in his career — currently second in all of baseball with 216.0 IP, his previous high of 156.2 came last season. Last night he threw a season-high 123 pitches, just eclipsing the 122 he had in a complete game in Minnesota June 21.

My favorite quote from Arrieta following Tuesday night’s latest dominant outing:

“Today I didn’t feel sharp. I felt off.”

Crazy. His line was 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R. And 11 strikeouts. He also retired 14 in a row at one point. I know it was the hapless Milwakee Brewers. It was also a typical — as we’ve become accustomed to — Arrieta start.

Jake is also second in opponents batting average (.191) to Greinke (.189). Clayton Kershaw is third in ERA across the Majors (2.18), right at Arrieta’s innings (215), and has the same WHIP (0.90). Kershaw has won the last two Cy Young awards, and the NL MVP last season. He could even be the Cy Young winner this year if not for his own teammate in Greinke and Arrieta.

Kershaw’s own ridiculous feat came July 18 as the Los Angeles Dodgers battled the Washington Nationals. LA won the game 4-2 and Kershaw dominated. In fact he induced 30 swing-and-misses, while striking out 14 and walking none.

What makes the Jake Arrieta story so incredible is his background. Acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in a 2013 mid-season trade, Arrieta found limited success. He had a 10-win season in 2011 but also a 5.05 ERA, and struggled to a 3-9 record in 2012.

During Jake’s 10-win season, he allowed 21 home runs in 22 starts. This year he’s allowed 10 home runs in 31 starts — Arrieta has only allowed two home runs since July 25. His month of August was exceptional: 6 wins, 0.43 ERA.

Arrieta has simply dialed it up from August on, placing himself No. 1 among Cy Young candidates for the NL.

Also published on Medium.