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July 1, 2014

The Buyer's Guide

Jake Arrieta

by J.P. Breen


I’m flipping the script a bit this week. Y’all brought interesting names to the table in the comments section last week, and while I normally choose an individual player on whom to focus based upon your suggestions, I felt the need to go off the board. Quite simply, it’s because right-hander Jake Arrieta laid waste to Major League Baseball last month. He wasn’t talked about enough in fantasy circles, but after flirting with no-hitters in back-to-back outings, he’s on the tip of every fantasy owner’s tongue.

Through 39 2/3 innings in the month of June, Arrieta compiled a 0.92 ERA with 48 strikeouts and only six walks. He’s gone four consecutive starts in which he’s thrown at least seven innings and struck out nine. Fantasy owners have taken notice, too, as the 28-year-old hurler is now owned in 83.5 percent of ESPN leagues (as of Monday evening). It’s a number that has increased dramatically in the past couple weeks, and owners have begun to ask whether Arrieta is someone to simply plug-and-play while he’s scorching hot, or if this breakout is something more permanent.

Good news: That’s what we attempt to determine in this space every week. I also reached out to a couple of other BP writers to help shed some light on Arrieta’s recent performance, offering multiple distinct perspectives on what’s happening on the North Side of Chicago.

Let’s do this.

***

Almost exactly a year ago, the Chicago Cubs acquired right-hander Jake Arrieta in a deal that sent veteran Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles. Arrieta was a former top prospect, but he had acquired the dreaded “bust” label after struggling for his first four seasons in the big leagues. In 358 innings with Baltimore, he had a 5.46 ERA and was walking 15.3 percent of the batters he faced in 2013 before the trade.

It was a mess of a situation. The Cubs, however, saw Arrieta’s natural ability and wagered they could fix him. The change-of-scenery deal is a gamble that many organizations have made over the years; it doesn’t always pay off. It appears the Cubs may reap significant dividends from this deal, though, given his recent dominant performance. Some articles have even begun wondering if Arrieta could be the next “ace” for the Chicago Cubs, which illustrates both the knee-jerk hyperbolic nature of our sports media and just how stellar the right-hander has been over the past couple months. Newspapers are no longer asking if Arrieta is going to make it as a big leaguer, but rather if he’s going to be elite.

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article The Stash List: 12th E... (07/01)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Bil... (06/23)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article The Buyer's Guide: Mic... (07/07)
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Premium Article Minor League Update: G... (07/01)

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