Jake Arrieta was the man given the ball for the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night. With his team looking down the barrel of a 3-0 series deficit to the Los Angeles Dodgers and in perhaps the final start within the friendly confines of Wrigley as a member of the home team, Arrieta delivered in a way only he could.
Arrieta departed to a standing ovation from Cubs fans after delivering 6 2/3 innings of work allowing one run on three hits with five walks and nine strikeouts. Cody Bellinger provided the lone run off the Cubs right-hander with a third inning home run. Arrieta pitched deep into the game handing a 3-1 lead off to his bullpen, a game the Cubs would go on to win 3-2 with Wade Davis grinding through another gutsy six out save for Chicago.
“I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there. It’s win-or-go-home. I had that mindset of I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to (Thursday night). We were able to scratch enough offense to get it to that point. (We’ll) come out (in Game 5) and do the best we can and try to win three in a row,” Arrieta said following his emotional Game 4 performance.
Jake Arrieta proved once again last night that like rotation-mate Jon Lester, he is a big-game pitcher. The veteran right-hander will have a slew of suitors for his services this winter and they can just flip on the footage from his Game 4 performance for a glimpse of what they can bolster their roster and rotation with for next season. Arrieta owns a lifetime 5-3 record in 9 postseason starts with a 3.08 ERA over 52 2/3 innings of work. Arrieta also improved to 3-0 in his career in elimination games (all with Chicago) sporting a 1.25 ERA and 29 strikeouts.
Jake Arrieta is the best pitcher on the market. Despite his age (31), I wouldn’t be concerned in committing well over $120 million to Arrieta over five years and that is exactly what the former Cy Young Award winner is going to command in free agency. Arrieta proved last night the amount of guts and fortitude he has each time out, and how much it ramps up when the lights shine the brightest. He possesses one of the best two-seam fastballs in all of the majors and can drop in a filthy changeup or curve on hitters to leave them befuddled at the plate.
Jake Arrieta shined through for Chicago to stave-off elimination from the NLCS, and that would certainly be one great last tip of the cap to Cubs fans and Theo Epstein for all they have done for each other. If the two sides can’t come together on an extension this off-season, Arrieta will always look back on Game 4 of the NLCS and the feeling he had walking off the mound and tipping his cap to a roaring Wrigley crowd of over 40,000 on their feet applauding him for his efforts.
Jake Arrieta came up aces for the Cubs keeping their season alive in what could very well be his final start with the organization.
Follow Frank Pimentel on Twitter: @FrankBostonTank