Top Play (WPA): Addison Russell led off the third inning by hitting a majestic drive down the left-field line that missed leaving the yard by just a few inches. Two batters later, Tommy La Stella turned on a fastball, smacking it into the corner in right to score Russell (+.119). 

Bottom Play (WPA): After a wild pitch moved La Stella to third and a walk put Dexter Fowler on first, Kyle Schwarber grounded into a double play to end the threat (-.112). It was of no consequence, however, as Jake Arrieta customarily shut down the opposition long enough for the Cubs to gain a comfortable advantage.

Key Moment: With the game still 1-0 and very much in doubt, Milwaukee starter Ariel Pena threw this pitch to Anthony Rizzo:

And Rizzo did this with it. That’s hardly fair. With the bases loaded in the fifth, reliever David Goforth figured he should attack Rizzo just a bit further beyond the zone:

Not far enough, Mr. Goforth. The two-run knock gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead, as Rizzo collected his 98th and 99th RBIs on the season, tying Kris Bryant for the club lead. The lead was later extended to 6-0 on a Starlin Castro double and a Fowler single. The Brewers only run would come in the form of a Khris Davis solo shot off Trevor Cahill.

Arrieta was his standard brilliant self, tossing six innings of scoreless, two-hit, seven-strikeout ball. There are no further superlatives to describe the historical brilliance of Arrieta, and for a moment we must sit back and simply marvel at the achievement. The dominance has become so commonplace, even the most astute observers have trouble not taking it for granted. That’s a 0.41 ERA since the beginning of August (best in history over that time span). It’s 20 consecutive quality starts (club record). It’s  a .185 BAA. How about a 0.75 ERA since the All-Star break (MLB record)? Twelve times he’s taken the mound this year and left the game without giving up a run. Since June 21st, opponents have combined to OPS .419 against him. These types of stats seemingly go on forever. I trust you’ve enjoyed the show Jake Arrieta has put on this season, I certainly have.

Trend to Watch: If Arrieta normally looks like he’s reading a novel out there, it was even more-so tonight, and it appeared to show up. In monitoring his starts over the last several weeks, his velocity has consistently ticked up, topping out at an average fastball over 97 mph his last time out. Tonight was very different, as it appeared he clearly held back in an effort to save up for next Wednesday’s start in the Wild Card game:

Pitch Statistics as coded by the Automatic MLBAM Gameday Algorithm
Pitch Type Velo (Max) H-Break V-Break Count Strikes / % Swings / % Whiffs / % BIP (No Out) SNIPs / % LWTS
FF (Four-seam Fastball) 95.0 (95.9) -7.04 10.30 6 3 / 50.0% 2 / 33.3% 1 / 16.7% 0 (0) 3 / 50.0% -0.02
SI (Sinker) 95.6 (96.9) -8.13 7.80 30 22 / 73.3% 10 / 33.3% 1 / 3.3% 6 (1) 16 / 66.7% -1.37
CH (Changeup) 89.4 (89.9) -9.75 5.54 3 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 / 0.0% 0 (0) 0 / 0.0% 0.12
SL (Slider) 90.3 (91.9) 4.40 2.00 22 17 / 77.3% 16 / 72.7% 6 / 27.3% 7 (2) 10 / 66.7% -1.65
CU (Curveball) 82.5 (84.3) 6.28 -8.93 11 6 / 54.5% 6 / 54.5% 4 / 36.4% 1 (0) 5 / 50.0% -0.66


Tonight his four-seamer averaged just 95 mph, and it topped out just under 96. For what it’s worth, his “stuff” was just as difficult to hit, generating 34 SNIPs in just 72 total pitches. Heading into the biggest start of his career, Arrieta is perfectly primed and ready to go.

Coming Next: Kyle Hendricks (3.42 FIP, 3.98 DRA)  ascends the hill for his final regular season tune-up. Tyler Wagner (11.74, 11.72) makes just his third career start for the opposing Brewers. Hendricks is coming off his most impressive outing of the season, having allowed just two hits and no runs last Monday against a venerable Royals squad. Some are calling for Hendricks to slot into the third spot in the playoff rotation, and this start may yet prove that is exactly where he belongs.

 Two games remain in this memorable 2015 regular season, and the Cubs can still match their win-total from the 2008 season. Being as the 2008 team ran away with the Central Division crown, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that this possibly 97-win season would represent the highest total since their last World Series appearance in 1945.

Lead photo courtesy of Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

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