Arrieta was born in Farmington, Missouri, but grew up just outside of Dallas, Texas. Though Jake might not have a Texas accent, he has the boots to prove he was raised there.
His father, Lou, who coached Jake from a very young age, was a big influence. The family lived across the street from some Little League fields, and as soon as Lou got off work he and Jake would head over to the diamond.
"I'd hit them and he'd run and shag the balls, and I'd pick up the ones behind the plate," Jake said. "The desire to be great is something is something my Dad instilled in me—that, and hard work.
"My Mom and Dad had to persevere through a lot," he said of his parents, who welcomed Jake into the world when they were just 18 and 19 years old.
- Jake's first word was "ball." And his father, Lou Arrieta, says he has always had a very competitive nature. At first, it was mercilessly trying to catching up to his father's Wiffle ball tosses on the Little League field across the street; later it became hours of ping-pong in Weatherford's student center, where Arrieta would frequently tell his friend—and far superior opponent—to not take it easy on him.
"That's the way I approach everything. If I'm getting beat or I feel like there's ways to get better at something, I'll figure it out," Arrieta said. "No matter what it takes."
A little overweight and undersized as a high school player, Arrieta became fixated on conditioning and nutrition, an edge he figured would set him apart from other kids. (Brittany Ghirolli-MLB.com-3/5/11)
Jake is the son of Lou and Lynda Arrieta. He has two younger brothers, Sam and Lukas.
Arrieta was not always the big athlete. "I was undersized and overweight in the beginning of high school," Jake said. "I had to work hard to stay in shape. I think that made me feel like an underdog and I have had the mindset to prove myself at every level because of that. I'm comfortable with that and I think it's made me the competitor that I am today." But he got in real good shape and grew five or six inches.
In 2004, Arrieta graduated from Plano High School in Texas after going 5-4 with a 1.30 ERA. That June, the Reds chose Jake in the 31st round of the draft. But Jake instead chose to attend Weatherford Junior College.
After a year at Weatherford, Arrieta transferred to Texas Christian University. He was named Mountain West Conference pitcher of the year as a sophomore in 2006 after going 14-4, 2.25 with 37 walks and 111 strikeouts in 111 innings. But as a junior, he was 9-3, 3.01 ERA with 50 walks and 93 strikeouts in 99 innings.
In college, Jake majored in business marketing.
In 2004, Jake was drafted by the Reds but did not sign.
In 2005, Jake was drafted by the Brewers but did not sign.
In 2007, he signed with the Orioles.
Jake's compulsive personality—as much as it helped fuel his success—could also be a hindrance for Arrieta, who was always obsessed with finding the next tweak, or the new idea to make him better. If eight repetitions in the weight room was considered status quo, Arrieta had to do 12. He added so much muscle his junior season that his command suffered, forcing the TCU staff to shut him down from lifting to get his delivery back on track.
"He's very, very self motivated and very much a perfectionist," TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said of Arrieta, who he also coached on Team USA's squad in 2006. "[He is] really hard on himself, and those are some good traits, and also some things he had to overcome.
"There is some of that [aggressiveness] that I think he's had to learn to temper a little bit."
With Team USA in the summer of 2006, Jake went 4-0 with a 0.27 ERA.
In the Arizona Fall League after the 2007 regular season, Jake led the league in scoreless innings (16) and appearances (14).
In August 2008, Arrieta was a member of Team USA in the Beijing Olympics. Arrieta is one of three players on the Cubs, along with Dexter Fowler and Trevor Cahill, to win a bronze medal with Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was also on that team.
His first year playng pro ball, Jake pitched for the Frederick Keys (Carolina League). He said his best friends were pitcher Brandon Erbe and infielder Brandon Snyder.
What do you do off the field, "We relax and download tons of music most of the time," Arrieta said.
In 2008, Arrieta was named the Carolina League's Pitcher of the Year, leading the league in ERA (2.87).
In the spring of 2009, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Arrieta as 4th-best prospect in the Orioles' farm system. And they still had Jake at #4 in the 2010 Handbook.
Jake is very competitive at everything—baseball, ping pong, billiards, whatever. "I've just always been very aggressive and competitive. I hate to lose more than anything in the world," said Arrieta. "When I am out on the mound, every pitch I throw is with a purpose and with a lot of aggression and confidence."
Arrieta got married in Texas after the 2009 season.
Jake was asked if he had some doubts he'd make the Orioles' 2013 Opening Day roster after he had such a disappointing 2012 record of 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA.
"No, absolutely not," Arrieta said. "Whether that's cockiness or overconfidence, whatever you want to call it, that's just the way that I personally had to approach the situation, with that mindset, knowing that I had to go out and actually show it and not just know it in my mind. I think the combination of having that mindset and knowing I had to kind of prove myself helped me get to the point where I am now."
However, Jake was sent to Triple-A Norfolk three weeks into the season when he couldn't get his mind right on the mound and had difficulty throwing pitches over the plate. He had walked 16 in 19 innings.
"I let previous instances creep up in my thought process sometimes," he said. "I think that's where things go awry and that's where the walks come in. I'm not giving up many hits, just putting them on base for free. I've just got to command the ball better in the strike zone. That's pretty much it."
O's manager Buck Showalter said, "The thing he's got to solve is the mental side of it. He knows he can help this club win. We know he can."
- Jake and Reds pitcher Homer Bailey live about one hour from each other near Austin, Texas. The two pitchers have known each other since high school and train together in the offseason. On June 24, 2014, Arrieta got the best of the Reds' starter in the Cubs' 7-3 win.
"For past five, six years we've been training partners, and we throw together—8:00 a.m. every morning," Arrieta said. "What impresses me so much about Homer is his work ethic. Bright and early every morning in the offseason, throwing, running, working out, taking care of his body—he's a true professional.
"He does things the right way and really takes pride in keeping himself healthy and performing at a high level. I look forward to competing against him for a long time to come. It's fun to compete against guys you know well and train with. It's a fun situation to be a part of."
The two are friends off the field, competitors on it.
"Before the game, we kind of tip our caps to each other and acknowledge each other," Arrieta said. "When the game is under way, it's all business."
The two offer each other tips during their workouts.
"We give each other little tidbits of advice," Arrieta said. "When the offseason rolls around, we fight for each other and try to make each other a little better." (Joe Popely / MLB.com | 6/26/2014)
2015 Spring Training: Arrieta will likely start throwing more as he prepares for the season. But if the sun is shining in Austin, Texas, then he's most likely outside, and could be using his kids in his training.
Arrieta often hits hiking trails near his home with 3-year-old son Cooper in a harness on his back and 11-month-old daughter Palmer in a baby carrier on his chest. Toting that extra 80 pounds gives Arrieta quite a workout, and he posted a picture of the trio on his Twitter account, calling it the "ideal start to a training day."
"It's almost every day," Arrieta said of the walks, which can extend up to 15 miles. "If the sun's out and it's dry, there's a 90 percent chance we're hiking somewhere."
There are times when Cooper wants to explore on his own, and they'll pause so he can throw rocks or splash in some water. Arrieta is OK with that. Being outside and together is key. will likely start throwing more as he prepares for next season. But if the sun is shining in Austin, Texas, then he's most likely outside, and could be using his kids in his training.
"That's one the main reasons we live in Austin," Arrieta said. "The weather is so nice for the majority of the offseason, and it's easy for us to get out and ride bikes and get on some trails, to walk together as a family. Sometimes I'll go out for a trail run. We just like to do things outdoors."
Cooper also has a routine when it comes to family bike rides. Arrieta has an attachment for the back of his bike for his son, who can pedal at his own pace.
"Before every ride, he requests a Gatorade in his cup holder," Arrieta said. "He's pretty demanding about that. I'm trying to get him to understand that sometimes we need to supplement some water."Cubs' skipper Joe Maddon says that Jake Arrieta s the best-conditioned athlete he's ever seen. (Jake combines some weights, pilates, yoga and running and/or walking as part of his program.
One day during his sophomore year at TCU, Jake and his baseball teammates found themselves in a dark room, lying on the floor, their eyes closed.
"I was like, 'What are we doing here?'" Arrieta said about his introduction to sports psychology. "But as soon as you start to accept it, you understand the importance of it. With the dark room and the voice in the corner, it was all about visualization and being able to see things happen before they do."
The voice belonged to noted performance coach Brian Cain, who had started working with the TCU program that year. "Everybody here has the ability to throw a fastball down and away or throw a breaking ball in the dirt for a swing and a miss," Arrieta said. "But are we able to stay in that moment and understand what we're trying to accomplish, and see it in our mind before we execute and then make the pitch? If you can see it before you execute, that only increases your chance for success."
Arrieta embraced the importance of strengthening his mind as well as working on mechanics. In his sophomore season in 2006, he led the nation with 14 wins and he followed that up with a spot on Team USA, where he was 4-0 and helped his squad win a gold medal in Cuba. TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle saw the change in Arrieta and the rest of his players after the sessions.
"The saying is, 'You can't be in control of your performance until you're in control of yourself,'" Schlossnagle said. "That's really helped all of our players. Jake's learned from that, and he's smart enough to learn that applies at the Major League level, too."
"Sports psychology or mental training has been viewed as a weakness, and I think that's a pretty silly way to look at it," Arrieta said, echoing a message manager Joe Maddon relayed to the Cubs. (Muskat - mlb.com - 2/22/15)
2015 Spring Training: Arrieta approaches baseball differently than most. He carries a gallon of kale juice around the Chicago Cubs’ spring training facility and uses Pilates as a part of his offseason regimen.
April 22, 2015: Arrieta spent a lot of time on Twitter answering questions:
@Deftone_Rocker: "Fav band that you think nobody's heard of?"
Arrieta: "Purity Ring"
@TCalley: "past MLB player you look up to?"
Arrieta: "Jeter. Kerry Wood. Brady Anderson"
@Pumps9121 "your beard is on point. Any tips or pointers for those aspiring?"
Arrieta: "Fade the sides. Let the middle flow"
@MaxHaid10: "Any superstitions on Gameday? #GoCubsGo"
Arrieta: "Same tank top under the jersey"
@Rskins02: "best words of advice you have received and from who?"
Zac Rosecup tried to get his teammate to respond to questions, asking how many tank tops Arrieta owns, but they were mostly ignored.
"I'm just kind of enjoying it," Arrieta said of the Q&A. "It wasn't a planned thing. I like to interact and let people know different things about me and the team and my family—I'm just having fun with it. That's the most important thing, is to enjoy it and keep it fun for everybody and not call anybody out or create any negativity. I think it's something people like to be a part of."
And if you check Arrieta's Twitter, you'll see an interesting avatar. It's a photo of him as a 5-year-old on his first T-ball team, which just happened to be the Cubbies. And someone did a little creative work and added a beard. tried to get his teammate to respond to questions, asking how many tank tops Arrieta owns, but they were mostly ignored.
Jake remembers his grandfather's telling him about watching Nolan Ryan throw one of his no-hitters. "That's something he'll always remember and relish and really be grateful that he was a part of," Arrieta said.
Now, 46,679 fans at Dodger Stadium and those watching on television can say they saw Arrieta join Ryan, Sandy Koufax, and other elite pitchers who have accomplished the feat.
Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter and picked up his Major League-leading 17th win in a 2-0 Cubs victory over the Dodgers. The right-hander struck out 12, including the side in the ninth, although he wasn't certain that's how the game ended. Arrieta had to ask some of his teammates what happened.
"We were doing a toast and he asked if the last three outs were all strikeouts," pitcher Dan Haren said. "He said it was going so fast he didn't realize it. I'm sure the adrenaline was going."
Arrieta had come close before. Seven times in his last 18 starts of 2014, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. "As the game wore on, I tried to use the past experiences to my advantage," Arrieta said. "I tried to stay calm and maintain the focus on just going out there and executing quality pitch after quality pitch." (Muskat - mlb.com - 8/30/15)
September 2015: The story of how Jake Arrieta transformed himself from one of baseball's most thoughtful pitchers into one of the hottest is the opposite of an overnight sensation. He didn't wake up one morning and discover a magic grip or even find an extra 5 mph on his fastball. The closest he came to an epiphany was in 2013, as he shuttled between the big league Orioles and their minor league affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, wrestling with the possibility that his talents were used up. Arrieta was 27 at the time.
"There was this moment in Triple-A where I didn't want to play anymore," he said. "This game beats you up, makes you feel sometimes like you're not good enough. For a couple months, I was in a mindset, 'This is hurting my life off the field and I'm way too worried about this game. It's affecting me, mentally, way too much.'"
Up close, it's easy to see the intensity that's unnerved NL hitters. Just recalling that time, though, puts Arrieta on edge; he leans in and fidgets with the buckle on an expensive watch.
"I was tired of the frustration, tired of this thing I couldn't control. And you know what, I talk to my wife about the same stuff every so often, even now. Stuff like, 'What are we going to do, what kind of business could we start when we're done playing?' The big difference," he added a moment later, "is that those were serious conversations a couple of years ago."
Instead of giving up, Arrieta doubled down. He treated the five days between starts getting ready for opponents the way an NFL team would. He broke down the process familiar to every pitcher at every level of the game—preparation, scouting, mechanics, delivery, release—and made himself stronger in every phase. Arrieta's daily workout regimen was the subject of clubhouse envy when he arrived in July 2013. Soon after he began working with Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio, so were his off-day sessions throwing on the side.
"I remember going over the scouting reports," Bosio said, "and thinking it had a lot to do with how he was attacking hitters. The league was hitting .460 on his first pitch, something like .570 when he got to a 1-1 count. With Jake, we started on the sequencing stuff, what to throw when, and he was tireless. He'd practice it over and over in the bullpen, so he owned it before he'd use it in a game."
The resulting confidence eased Arrieta's fixation on mechanics. He refined every aspect of his delivery from shoulder turn to fingertip release, then repeated it until that, too, was second nature. Gradually, his fastball got faster and his breaking stuff a lot filthier.
"Even when he makes a mistake, it's a 97 mph pitch with cut down the middle," Arizona's A.J. Pollock said. "It's a different mistake."
"Nobody can repeat their delivery perfectly for 120 pitches," he said. "But the closer you can get, the better you're going to command the ball from start to finish. At the end of the day, good stuff is great, velocity is great, good breaking stuff is crucial to having a lot of success here. But commanding the baseball," Arrieta said finally, "is the most important variable in pitching." (Jim Litke - Sept. 2015)
The beard is thoroughly 19th century—dark, thick as an ancient wood, unkempt and redolent of Arrieta's most recent meal. From 60 feet, 6 inches away, especially at night, Arrieta gives a hitter the visage of Pestilence, the horseman of the Apocalypse. The flat brim of the cap pulled down, obsidian eyes cutting through the veil of gloom.
"Beast," says his wife, Brittany. "That's our nickname for him. I would not like to face him if I were a baseball player. You don't know what's going through his mind. You can't even get the guy to flinch. Not everybody can pull off that beard. Hs back and chest and face are all hairy. We have a werewolf in the family. And it's like his eyes are locked in on you." (Tom Verducci - Sports Illustrated - 3/28/2016)
One day after the 2013 season Brittany and Jake were leaving a French bakery in their hometown of Austin when he noticed a Pilates studio next door. Arrieta has always been a workout omnivore, devouring any discipline that will make him better: yoga, Olympic weight training, visualization, sports psychology ... Pilates? Sounded interesting. Jake figured he would take one or two classes a week. He walked into the studio and signed up for a class with an intrctor named Liza Edeobor.
"I pitch for the Cubs," Jake told her.
"Oh, that's great" Liza said. "I never heard of you. Let's see what we can do.""What I noticed from Pilates (in 2015) was that I have much better control of my body," Arrieta said. "I repeat my delivery consistently. My balance is much improved. And the mental and physical toughness Pilates requires to complete movements the correct way have directly helped me on the mound."
Arrieta stretches two hours every day. He does yoga. He meditates. He undergoes mobility training called Functional Range Conditioning, which stresses his joints to ward off injuries from sudden movements such as reacting to a bunt. He starts every day with up to 24 ounces of water and 24 ounces of cold-pressed juices. He eats four to six eggs for breakfast and then has small meals throughout the day.
Before he starts he prefers marinated chicken, quinoa, roasted vegetables and other "foods that will lead to clarity of mind," as he puts it. Steak and potatoes? "Never before competition," he says. "There's no way I'd put that food in my body. It would definitely correlate with my performance."
About two hours before every start Arrieta climbs on his reformer. He runs through a progression of movements designed to awaken and stress parts of his body for competition: obliques, lats, shoulders—this goes on for about 20 minutes. When he is done, he pull on his uniform and headphones. In Baltimore, he would play heavy metal such as Pantera or Metallica to get his heart rate up. But now he plays mellow ambient music such as Fleet Foxes. He has learned that it's better to calm the body and mind to conserve energy. (Tom Verducci - SI - 3/28/2016)
In 2015, Arrieta was presented with the MLB Esurance Awards as the Best Starting Pitcher and Best Breakout Player.
June 2016: Arrieta has thrown two no-hitters and recently rode a winning streak of 20 consecutive decisions. What's next for the Cubs' ace? How about taking part in a Home Run Derby? Arrieta was asked if he'd be interested after picking up his 10th win in a victory over the Braves. The Giants' Madison Bumgarner already said he would participate in next month's contest in San Diego if asked.
"I honestly think that would be the most adrenaline I would ever have," Arrieta said. "Hitting in a Home Run Derby with no [batting] cage in front of 40,000 people—I don't know how those guys do it. I think it would be mentally and physically draining but a really fun experience."
Better than throwing a no-no at Dodger Stadium in a nationally televised game, which he did last Aug. 30?
"I still think the adrenaline I would get in a Home Run Derby would be much, much greater," Arrieta said. "It's something you've never done before. I'm sure [Kris Bryant] and [Anthony] Rizzo were feeling the adrenaline rush last year. I'm in."
Arrieta does have one homer this year, but predicted he would hit five. (Carrie Muskat - MLB - June 11, 2016)
Arrieta took up woodworking. "I've built quite a few things now and I'm starting to get more into it, and the more knowledge you gain of it, you just want to keep going because it's such a detailed type of hobby and there's so many little things you have to know well in order to build something efficiently. It's pretty therapeutic, too."
November 2016: Well, this won't help to quell the debate over who is the best among #pitcherswhorake.
Officially, though, Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has ended Madison Bumgarner's two-year reign by taking home his first career Silver Slugger Award. The honors are given annually to MLB's premier hitters at each position as voted on by managers, and Arrieta finally edged out his Giants counterpart.
What started as an innocuous College World Series semifinal matchup the summer of 2016 turned into an event with permanent implications for two members of the Cubs. When the TCU Horned Frogs matched up against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, former-Horned Frog Jake Arrieta and former-Chanticleer Tommy La Stella placed a wager on the outcome: the alum of the losing team had to get a tattoo of the winning team.
And make no mistake, we're not talking about a temporary tattoo here. One of these players was signing up to permanently mark their body with a tribute to a college he did not attend.If you followed the College World Series, you know that Coastal Carolina won the whole thing, defeating TCU in the process. Which meant Arrieta had to live up to his end of the bargain and he now had CCU '16 Champs on his body. (Cut4/MLB)
March 17, 2017: Instead of Anthony Rizzo at first base, it was Minor Leaguer Yasiel Balaguert. And instead of Addison Russell at shortstop, it was Carlos Penalver. It didn't matter to Arrieta, who pitched five innings in a Minor League game against the Angels. The discussion after his outing also was about youth, and how long he expects to pitch.
Who knows, Arrieta could still be in uniform when he's 40, or he could be chauffeuring his kids to practice in a Mercedes Sprinter.
"Look at [John] Lackey," Arrieta said. "He says he's going to retire after this year. Watch him throw. He's healthy, he's got velocity, he knows how to pitch, he's got great command. If he wanted to, he can pitch for three more years.
"Rich Hill signed a three-year deal and he'll pitch until he's 40," Arrieta said. "If I want to, I think I'll still be able to."
"You evolve," Arrieta said. "The stuff is the same it's been since I was a young kid. I was close to 100 [mph] in college. You don't need that. Low-to-mid 90s, four pitches, some maturity, good scouting report, good catcher -- that's all you need." Will Arrieta be pitching when he's 40? "I'm hoping I don't have a salt-and-pepper beard," he said.
The Cubs have to decide if Arrieta's long-term plans fit theirs. He will be a free agent after this season.
"There's plenty of ways to get guys out; changing speeds, changing eye level, relying on movement versus high-end velocity," he said. "I didn't have my cutter for a good part of the year. I guarantee if you talk to [Jon] Lester or Lackey, there are two or three seasons when they missed a pitch or two. Pitching is a crazy job and it's hard to find."
Which is why Arrieta will be a very attractive option to some team next year. (C Muskat - MLB.com - March 17, 2017)
2017: Arrieta and Kris Bryant appeared in the season finale on the TV show Chicago Fire.
Arrieta was college teammates with Cardinals All-Star Matt Carpenter at Texas Christian University. Arrieta pitched for the Horned Frogs in 2006 and 2007 before he was drafted by the Orioles in the third round of the 2007 draft, with Carpenter playing for TCU from 2005-2009.
Arrieta was even a groomsman at Carpenter's wedding. On the field, Arrieta has the edge in their head-to-head matchups, holding Carpenter to an .083 batting average. Carpenter is 3-for-36 against Arrieta, including 1-for-3 in the Cubs' win over the Cardinals in the 2015 NL Division Series.
June 2007: The Orioles drafted him in the 5th round, out of Texas Christian University. He signed with scout Jim Richardson for a bonus of $1.1 million.
July 2, 2013: The Cubs sent RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger to Baltimore Orioles; acquiring Arrieta and RHP Pedro Strop.
February 6, 2016: The Cubs and Arrieta agreed to a one-year contract (avoiding arbitration) worth $10.7 million.
Jan 13, 2017: Jake and the Cubs avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal for $15.6 million.
Nov 2, 2017: Jake chose free agency.
March 12, 2018: Arrieta signed a three-year contract with the Phillies worth $75 million. Arrieta will make $30 million in the first year, $25 million in the second, and $20 million in the third. He can opt out after 2019.
Oct 24, 2019: Jake chose NOT to opt out. So he is owed $20 million for the 2020 season.
Oct 28, 2020: Jake elected free agency.
Feb 13, 2021: The Cubs signed Jake to a one-year contract. The deal is worth $6 million guaranteed. The deal includes a $4 million base salary plus incentives for 2021, and its mutual option is valued at $10 million (or a $2 million buyout)
Aug 12, 2021: The Cubs released Jake.
- Aug. 16, 2021: Arrieta caught on with a playoff contender after getting released by the Chicago Cubs, signing a minor-league deal with the San Diego Padres.
- Sept 22, 2021: THe Padres released Jake
Arrieta had a lively 90-96 mph FASTBALL with explosive late movement, but he's lost velocity and now is in the 89-93 mph range. Jake still has a slow, big-breaking 75-79 mph CURVEBALL that he backdoors to lefthanded hitters for a called strike occasionally; a hard 84-92 mph CUTTER-SLIDER that has good bite; and a CHANGEUP that has its moments vs. lefthanded hitters.
That cutter-slider really improved, making hitters shake their heads in disbelief. It is a solid swing-and-miss out pitch with two-plane depth. It is effective vs. both lefthanded and righthanded batters. It is near-impossible to properly classify that pitch.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 5.2% of the time; Sinker 59.8% of the time; Change 4.3%; Slider 18.7%; and CURVE 14.4% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 3.7% of the time; Sinker 60.3% of the time; Change 7.4%; Slider 14.1%; and Curve 14.4% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 2% of the time, his Sinker 53.8%; Change 10.4%; Slider 23.6%; and Curveball 10.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93 mph, Sinker 93.7, Changeup 88.6, Slider 89.9, and Curve 81.3 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 1.5% of the time, his Sinker 54.%; Change 18.3%; Slider 12.1%; and Curveball 13.4% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.8 mph, Sinker 92.9, Changeup 88, Slider 90.1, and Curve 80.9 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball less than 1% of the time, his Sinker 50.8%; Change 17.8%; Slider 23.7%; and Curveball 7.1% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.4 mph, Sinker 92.4, Changeup 87.8, Slider 89.1, and Curve 82.3 mph.
Jake has an aggressive approach and a real good feel for pitching. He is a power pitcher. He especially works the inside part of the plate, endeavoring to keep hitters on their heels.
Anticipation mounts when Arrieta stares in for the catcher’s sign, with a look of grim foreboding. As his eyes blaze beneath a cap brim flatter than the Texas plains.
Jim Richardson, the Orioles’ scout who signed Arrieta out of Texas Christian eight years ago, saw that relentless focus on display long before Arrieta grew a beard and embraced the “late bloomer” tag at age 28. Richardson has driven past a lot of mesquite and buffalograss through the years in search of power bats and big arms, so a specific image springs to mind.
“It’s kind of like those old gunfighters in those westerns,” Richardson said. “There’s a confidence in his eyes. He’s transmitting something to the hitter, like, ‘Hey, I’m not afraid of you, but you better be afraid of me.’ It’s always been there.”
Richardson isn’t alone in his assessment. Arrieta’s wife, Brittany, recently expressed a similar sentiment about his mound countenance, although it wasn’t quite as fraught with O.K. Corral imagery.
“She looked at different photos from several of my starts, and then she looked at me and said, ‘You’re scary out there,’” Arrieta said. “I told her, ‘It’s a different mindset.’ The aggression out there is completely opposite how I am off the field. Something pretty much takes over in a competitive battle against the best players in the world. That’s what I feel is necessary to be great, for me.” (Jerry Crasnick - Baseball America - 10/23/15)
He has a good, repeatable delivery. In 2009, the Orioles worked to shorten Arrieta's stride to give his pitches a better finish and keep him from leaving his fastball up in the zone too often. He responded well and was able to get swings and misses with his fastball.
He uses his 6-foot-4 frame to create good angle to the plate.
June 30, 2014: Arrieta carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, his second straight start with a no-no through at least six innings. He became the first Cubs pitcher since at least 1974 to carry a no-hitter through six innings in back to back starts. The last big league pitcher to do so was Toronto's Dave Stieb on June 24 and June 30, 1988.
Jake had a great 2014 season. How? "Almost all of it is beyond the physical aspects of this game," he said. "It's more of the mental preparation and just the rearranging of certain thoughts—what's important and what's not. A lot of self-reflecting, continuing to come to fruition. Things that you need to reiterate with yourself, positive things, negative things, and (then using) those to your benefit."
Arrieta continued, "If you can find out how to do that, how to bounce back, how to keep things rolling in a positive direction, regardless of success or failure, that's what it's all about. I think I'm slowly starting to figure it out and continuing to learn every day."
Yep, Arrieta took a leap in maturity and also found his daily routine.
"He changes pitch to pitch," Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said in 2014. "That's the one thing that makes him so unpredictable as a power guy. One time, he'll come with one pitch at one speed, and it might be 83 or 84 (mph), and the next time he'll throw it at 90 or 92.
"He keeps you guessing. The biggest thing with pitchers is we don't want to be predictable. Being able to locate to both sides of the plate is pretty unpredictable, when you're also able to change speeds like that."
Cubs TV color man Jim Deshaies (former MLB pitcher) uses the phrase "power and precision" in his description of Arrieta.
Arrieta is certainly a power pitcher, but not in the traditional sense. He features an interesting and somewhat mysterious repertoire.
Jake said, "I can change the break, I can change locations. I'm not perfect with it. I'm still working to become better with the (cutter-slider), just as I am with all my other pitches. But it's something I have a comfort level with. I'm able to trust it and let it go."
2015: Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher with 10 wins before the All-Star break since Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano both did so in 2008. He joins the Pirates' Gerrit Cole, the Nationals' Max Scherzer, and the Cardinals' Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha as the only NL pitchers to reach 10 wins by the break.
August 30, 2015: Arrieta threw his first no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2–0 victory. He is the first starting pitcher since Sandy Koufax to end a no hitter by striking out the side in order (1965).
September 12, 2015: Arrieta won his eighth start becoming the first Cubs pitcher to win that many in a row since Milt Pappas won 11 consecutive games in 1972.
Sept. 17, 2015: Jake recorded his 17th straight quality start, which tied a Cubs franchise mark. The only other Cubs pitcher to post 17 quality starts in a row was Lon Warneke in 1933.
September 22, 2015: Arrieta became the first pitcher in the Majors to win 20 games in 2015 and the first Cubs pitcher since Jon Lieber in 2001 to win 20 in a season. It was also the third shutout and fourth complete game of the season for Arrieta, who became the first Cubs pitcher since Kerry Wood in 2003 to throw four complete games and the first since Greg Maddux in 1992 to toss three shutouts.
September 27, 2015: Arrieta became the first Chicago pitcher to win more than 20 games since Ferguson Jenkins won 24 games in 1971.
For the 2015 season, Arrieta posted a 1.77 ERA, and he's the first Cubs qualifying pitcher to finish with a sub-2.00 ERA since Grover Cleveland Alexander recorded a 1.91 ERA in 1920. He's the first pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985 to win 22 games and post an ERA under 2.00. Arrieta finished with MLB-record 0.75 ERA after the All-Star break and his 1.77 overall mark is lowest by a Cubs starter since 1919.
Cubs catcher David Ross said, "Calling a game for him is so easy. It’s like reaching into a grab bag and pulling out a pitch. It’s so good, you know it’s probably going to work.”
2015 (CBS)—The hard work and determination that has made Arrieta one of baseball’s elite pitchers has been documented throughout his fabulous second half of the 2015 season run that’s unmatched in baseball history. Meanwhile, the man behind the scenes has been been hidden away in coaches’ rooms and bullpens around the league. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio was a driving force behind Arrieta rising from the ashes of his career in Baltimore to now being heralded as a top-three pitcher in the game.
Arrieta compiled a post-All-Star break run that’s never been seen in the game. He had a 0.75 ERA in the second half of the season, the lowest among qualified pitchers in baseball history, and his 0.41 ERA (four earned runs in 88 1/3 innings) from Aug. 1 until the end of the '15 season shocked the baseball world.
To Arrieta’s credit, he has become much more than a pitcher who dominates on his mound day. Asked about the influence of Bosio, Arrieta first paused.
“He has been a source of positive energy and a good friend,” Arrieta said of the relationship. “He has helped me get my concentration back and has been there really for all the pitchers and the entire team.”
Bosio had some tough love for Arrieta when he first came to the Cubs in July 2013.
“I suggested to Jake that he consider a few things,” Bosio said. “I said beyond being a great pitcher, you should consider yourself a leader and carry yourself that way. I suggested that he needs to be that guy in the clubhouse and on the bench. I told him I saw these leaderships abilities in him.”
The rest has been Arrieta doing his best to be that leader.
“Jake has taken it to the next level and has been that guy,” Bosio said. “He has given credit to everyone and has blossomed into the top pitcher in the league. He deserves the credit.”
Multiple sources said that Arrieta’s problems in Baltimore stemmed in part from a strained relationship with former pitching coach Rick Adair, an old-school type who was not particularly receptive to young pitchers with free-thinking orientations. One person familiar with the situation referred to Adair as a “my-way-or-the-highway guy with a cookie-cutter approach” that didn’t resonate with Arrieta.
In hindsight, Arrieta acknowledges that his mind was cluttered with too much unproductive advice in Baltimore. He wasn’t unlike dozens of other prospects who wind up feeling stifled and confused when an organization spends too much time dictating and not enough time trying to find a middle ground.
“I’ve learned to be my own coach and trust my gut, instead of trusting everybody I come in contact with,” Arrieta said. “I knew for a long time I could pitch my way and have success, but it was hard to do that. You want to be coachable and try to listen and learn from people, but everybody normally doesn’t have all the information. Sometimes you have to be your own coach and try to figure it out on your own.”
Arrieta has found success with a cross-body delivery isn’t in a pitching textbook. He’s a video buff and a fitness freak with a fondness for pilates, yoga, foam rolling and kale juice. If a technique or an approach will help make him a better pitcher, he’ll consider it regardless of how avant garde it might be.
Through a combination of patience, time and admirable perspective, Arrieta has discovered that all of life’s obstacles can be overcome through a strong internal compass. Ask him why he’s so partial to wearing that flat cap brim, and he says it’s because it allows him to see the field of play so clearly, without obstruction. He can also see a bright future beckoning, and it’s getting more promising by the day. (Jerry Crasnick - Baseball America - 10/23/15)
In 2015, Arrieta won the NL Cy Young Award.
Jake embraced the warrior mentality it takes to be great. Before the 2015 season, Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio encouraged him to provide leadership when he first came to the Cubs.
"I wanted him to be a badass walking around and feel like he's the best pitcher and teammate on the planet," Bosio said. "You can be humble about being a great husband, father and person. But you can still walk around with a chip on your shoulder thinking you're one of the best pitchers in the game.
"We tried to let him be himself within the tweaking we did to his delivery and mental approach. We talked about having a purpose with every movement and pitch you practice with. All these factors led Jake to his work ethic and mindset," Bosio said.
Arrieta is one of the strongest pitchers in the game. Jake pushes off the far third base side of the rubber, closes his front to the hitter, raises his left shoulder higher than his right and strides with his left foot toward the third base dugout. At that moment it appears as if Arrieta is trying to heave a ball into the second deck, on the third base side of the stands. But suddenly, mid-flight, he appears to change his mind. No, throw it over here!
His hips spin open—belt buckle facing the pitcher—and then spins. This separation between the two twisting actions, like one tornado atop another, is a key to power pitching. Only the, after the ball is "loaded" behind his head with his arm bent at less than 90 degrees, does the arm begin to fire.
"The first thing that stands out is that he can throw the ball so hard and make it go both ways," says Giants catcher Buster Posey. "You don't see a guy who can two-seam the ball at 95 and throw a cutter at 93, 94. Usually it's one or the other. And he's got a power curveball to go with them."
The cutter, Arrieta's signature pitch, also resembles a slider. It's a freak of physics that he throws anywhere between 83 and 95 on four different planes. Since Jake joined the Cubs in 2013 he has thrown 648 two-strike cutter/sliders without allowing a home run.
"It's a closer's cutter," Posey says, "except for eight or nine innings, not one." (Tom Verducci - SI - 3/28/2016)
Arrieta insists that his crossfire motion is natural—he has pictures of himself at 10 years old throwing that way—and that he does not torque his wrist or elbow to spin his cutter/slider. He simply moves his fastball grip off-center, to the ball's Eastern hemisphere, and concentrates on his middle finger "on the front of the baseball."
Jake's cutter has become dominant because of his increased command and use of the two-seamer, which breaks to the opposite direction. The two-seamer has become so good that Arrieta rarely uses his four-seamer, the staple of his youth, which has less movement.
April 21, 2016: Jake no-hit the Reds, striking out 6 and walking 4. He is the 33rd pitcher to pitch multiple no-hitters, since 1901.
In the modern era, since 1901, only Kenny Holtzman no hit Atlanta in 1969 and the Reds in 1971 had pitched more than one no-no for the Cubs in his career. Arrieta joined him. Only four other active pitchers had thrown multiple no-no's: Max Scherzer, Tim Lincecum, Homer Bailey and Justin Verlander.
When Joe Maddon was asked what impresses him most about Arrieta, he said, "His consistency of character. I don't think I've ever seen anybody work like he does and when he plays, there's an extreme calmness about the guy. When I speak to him in the dugout during the game, I can have a conversation with him.
"A lot of guys you can't. He looks you right in the eye, he speaks slowly, there's never any heavy breathing. Among all the pitchers I've ever had, he is in the present tense as well and as much as anybody." (March 2016)
May 28, 2016: The Cubs had won Arrieta's previous 23 starts—a franchise record and tying the Major League mark set by the Braves behind Kris Medlen in 2012. And Jake became the first Cubs starter to open a season 9-0 since Ken Holtzman did so in 1967.
Only minutes removed from his first regular-season loss since July 25, 2015, Jake sat down and answered questions like nothing happened. Without context to his statements, you might not know the Cubs' 3-2 loss to the D-backs on June 5, 2016, snapped a streak of 20 consecutive Arrieta decisions without a loss, the longest in Cubs history and the third-longest in baseball since at least 1913.
It also might be hard to tell that this loss came despite Arrieta striking out 12 batters in five innings, making him only the fifth pitcher since 1900 to fan 12 or more in five innings or fewer. "That's one of the things you deal with in this game sometimes," Arrieta said, calm and composed as ever.
If anyone is aware of his own mortality, it is Arrieta, the man who went from a back-of-the-rotation pitcher with the Orioles to the best pitcher on the best team in baseball. (Stavenhagen - MLB.com - 6/5/16)
- During the 2016 season, Arrieta induced more ground-ball outs than all but 3 other MLB pitchers. Jake had 262, while Marcus Stroman led with 310.
- June 28, 2017: Jake notched his 1,000th career strikeout when he fanned Trea Turner.
April 12, 2019: Arrieta stepped on the mound with a plan to throw his changeup a lot. The pitch’s effectiveness had him celebrating his 100th career win following a 9-1 victory over the Marlins.
Arrieta's curveball explained:
Jake’s curveball has more movement and spin than most in baseball, moving slightly more vertically (1.8 inches more than average) and much more horizontally (6.0 inches more than average), according to Statcast. His spin rate is in the 85th percentile. The more spin on a curveball, the better. Curveballs with a higher spin rate are more likely to be hit on the ground.
Arrieta’s father taught him the foundation of the breaking ball. Arrieta fiddled with his curveball grip over the years. Today, his middle finger rests along the right seam of the U-shaped horseshoe. The pad of his index finger rests just above the bottom of the “U,” which faces into his hand. It looks like a spike-curveball grip, but Arrieta emphasizes that he does not put intense pressure on the index finger, like most spike grips. His thumb rests on the opposite seam on the bottom of the ball. Arrieta uses both the middle finger and the thumb to pull down on the ball.
Arrieta’s lower arm slot gives the ball more of a 1-7 break, if looking at home plate like a clock face. Sometimes he gets a 12-6 break.
“When I’m going well, it kind of becomes more of a 12-6,” he said. “Any time you can get more downward action on any of your pitches, it’s going to be more effective.” (Todd Zolecki - April 27, 2020)
2020 Season: His days as an ace are far behind him, but Jake Arrieta was a capable number four starter for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2020.
The best thing that I can say about Arrieta’s 2020 season is that it was no worse than I expected. In 2018 and 2019, the Phillies counted on Arrieta to be their No. 2 starter, and he disappointed. However, in 2020 Arrieta only needed to be the No. 4. That’s exactly how he pitched.
Arrieta started nine games for the Phillies this past season, and he threw the ball pretty well in most of them. In six starts, he went at least five innings and gave up three or fewer runs. In two other starts, Arrieta was “passable,” going four-plus innings and allowing four earned runs in each.
Arrieta was only downright bad in one start, giving up seven earned runs and getting only four outs in against the Atlanta Braves — who ended up being one win shy of a World Series berth — on August 30. If you remove that one outing from his stat line, his season looks a lot better — an ERA that would be decreased from 5.08 to 3.77.
Of course, we can’t remove that one game. Bad pitchers have bad starts. It’s no coincidence that none of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler or Zach Eflin had a start that bad this season.
However, I think it’s fair to say that Arrieta wasn’t as bad in 2020 as his ERA suggests. His FIP of 4.66 is probably more indicative of his true talent level. He was a perfectly serviceable No. 4 starter — just as he has been the past two seasons.
While Arrieta certainly has not lived up to his $75 million contract, he hasn’t been bad either. Consider this list of just some of the pitchers the Phillies have given multiple starts to since 2018:
Vince Velasquez (4.98 ERA)Nick Pivetta (5.08 ERA)Jerad Eickhoff (5.40 ERA)Cole Irvin (5.60 ERA)Ranger Suarez (6.75 ERA)Ben Lively (6.85 ERA)Enyel De Los Santos (7.36 ERA)The back end of the Phillies rotation has been an absolute “tire fire” over the past few years, and so Arrieta has always been a welcome presence. He’s pitched 352 2/3 innings for the Phillies, and holds a 4.36 ERA with the team.
That’s not ace-worthy, nor worth $25 million a season, but it was better than what their other available options would have produced. (Leo Morgenstern - Oct. 2020)
- 2018 - 2020 Season: Over the past three years in Philadelphia, Arrieta went 22-23 with a 4.36 ERA in 64 appearances. That includes going 4-4 with a 5.08 ERA in nine starts during the abbreviated 2020 campaign. Last year in 2020, Arrieta struck out 32 and walked 16 in 44 1/3 innings.
- Entering the 2021 season, Arrieta had a career record of 110-79 and 3.76 ERA, with allowing 157 home runs and 1,319 hits in 1,513 innings pitched.