All Eyes on Arrieta as Pre-season Begins

By Richard Kagan

The Chicago Cubs had quite the off-season. There still is an after-glow in Chicago as the city basks in its first World Series Title for the Cubs in 108 years.

Management has been busy, making trades and filling holes. The starting lineup looks formidable with the return of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez. Oh by the way, Willson Contreras will probably get the starting nod at catcher. Contreras can hit and has great defensive instincts. And, he grew to handle most of the pitching staff last season.

Jake Arrieta signed a one year deal worth $15.64 dollars to return to the Cubs. The question will be can Arrieta regain his form that he showed early last season. He did win two World Series games, in that epic series against Cleveland. Arrieta also won a Silver Slugger award as the best hitting pitcher in the National League with a .262 batting average, with 2 home runs and seven runs batted in. He was not an easy out at the plate. Pitchers had to work to get him out.

Now, if he can throw as well as he hit last year, then this will bode well for Cubs as they seek to repeat as World Series Champs.  Arrieta threw a no-hitter vs. Cincinatti last season and went 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA.  In the second half of the season, he seemed to tire and gave up an inordinate number of walks. He also uncorked a few wild pitches.

He is a fiery competitor and I think this season he will pitch like he has something to prove. That he is still the same pitcher who won the Cy Young in 2015 as the Chicago Cubs became contenders. That his stuff is still elite among starters in the league.

If Arrieta has a good year, maybe flirt with a 20 game win season, this can only mean good things are store for the Cubbies. Maybe they can make history, again.


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