By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The present form of Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta has been somewhere between the unhittable, dominant force of 2015 and an average mid-rotation starter, but perhaps his performance in Chicago’s win over Miami on Tuesday could be a turning point in what’s been a mediocre beginning to his season.
Arrieta was both good and average at times in his team’s 10-2 victory at Wrigley Field. Command was an early issue as Arrieta walked two and allowed a run in a 33-pitch first inning, but he then sailed through the next five innings in 67 pitches, allowing just one hit in the stretch.
A barrier has seemingly been up at six innings for Arrieta this season, as he’s gone deeper than that just once in 12 starts. That’s largely because manager Joe Maddon has made a point to reduce Arrieta’s workload after two long seasons.
Tuesday once again brought a six-inning outing for Arrieta, who allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits and three walks while striking out five. Arrieta’s fastball was up a tick as well after sitting around 92 mph for much of 2017.
Getting through the seventh was a goal for Arrieta but didn’t happen after he allowed a lead-off triple with the Cubs up 4-1 at the time.
“The onus is on us as starters” Arrieta said about going deeper in game. “We are still capable of getting through seven with 95 to 100 pitches. I had that opportunity tonight. I was able to go out for the seventh. I just didn’t make a pitch in that situation to get a little more extended and possibly finish the seventh.”
The sinker was working for Arrieta (6-4), who had been hurt in allowing 11 homers in his first 11 starts. Arrieta’s performance had Maddon believing he’s looking more like his old self.
“I was really looking to get seven from him right there,” Maddon said. “The triple to start the inning was the wrong thing to happen right there. Velocity wise, I saw it pump up for him. You saw the good curveball from him again today. I thought he had a good change-up, cutter. Fastball command was good. It is starting to look different.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.