Jake Arrieta has been the Cubs best pitcher of late

Jake Arrieta isn’t back to his 2015 Cy Young award-winning form. However, he’s in the midst of his best stretch in some time.

The Chicago Cubs starters as a whole have been strong since the All-Star Break, but Arrieta has been the team’s true ace over the last month plus.

He’s been fantastic for the Cubs since the break, erasing those first half struggles as the team hopes to surge into the playoffs.

In fact, his revived excellence started before the break, spanning all of July and now halfway through August.

Since the All-Star Break, Arrieta is 5-2 with a 2.09 ERA, .93 WHIP, .190 opp. BA and 33 strikeouts. He’s regained his control, he’s maintained a good velocity and he’s not allowing nearly as many baserunners as he was earlier this season.

He’s only given up more than two earned runs in one start during this stretch, and also has last at least six innings in all but one start. He’s pitching as effectively as anytime, if not more so, since the end of his Cy Young campaign.

Calling him the best pitcher on the staff during his current run isn’t an easy honor to bestow. The rest of the group has picked up their production in recent weeks, a big reason why the Cubs are 18-10 since the break.

That’s why Arrieta has been so impressive in the last month and a half; everybody in the rotation has stepped up their game, and he’s taking it another step further.

When you break down the numbers even further, you can see just how much he’s improved over the course of the year and how generally dominant he’s been as of late.

His opponent’s batting average is down almost across the board since July started for each against each pitch he regularly throws. The same can be said for his opponent’s isolated power numbers.

These numbers are important because they help illustrate that Arrieta’s still getting batters out at an impressive clip despite having to face batters differently than in recent years. His velocity isn’t as high as it was in either 2015 or 2016, but his excellent stuff now plays a bigger role in getting those crucial outs.

On a shallower but still valid level, just by watching Arrieta pitch, you can tell he has much better control now than he did to start the season and he’s executing better in general. More first-pitch strikes, more ground balls and fewer baserunners allowed in general.

The question now is how long this streak will go on.

During the first half there was a constant worry that a good Arrieta start would turn sour quickly in the middle of the game, and that seemingly happened frequently. Whether it was an untimely home run or an inconvenient string of hits, good starts were frequently spoiled and sent down a negative path.

Over the last month and a half, however, that feels like less and less of a concern.

The Cubs are in great shape if they have a bona fide ace again to go along with a strong rotation overall and rebounding offense, they’ll be in great shape for the home stretch.

You can’t ask for Arrieta to pitch just like he did in the second half of 2015, because that was historically impressive. But, if he can stay fresh (and he believes he can) and keeps up this production, he will assert himself as the Cubs’ No. 1 starting option yet again.

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