What You Need To Know: Jake Arrieta kept his hot streak going, being able to play Frogger for six innings, weaving in and out of mostly self-inflicted traffic to only surrender one run. That propped up an offense that was once against squandering chances long enough for the dam to break in the last two innings, as the Cubs piled on five runs from homers by Baez (three-run), Happ, and Bryant (solos). See what not having to deal with Archie Bradley can do?
Next Level: The Man of The Match would have to be Arrieta, who walked three in six innings, which I’m sure he would consider too much. He only surrendered three hits to Jake Lamb, who Cubs fans will feel very relieved they won’t have to see again for a while. He didn’t use the curve quite as much as we’ve seen in past starts, throwing just 11 all game. He mixed in the changeup more often, and it generated whiffs on 40 percent of the times he featured it. He got a big double play in his last inning of work, in the sixth when Lamb had led off with yet another single and Goldschmidt up. It was a situation to give anyone shpilkus, and it ended up being harmless. He got twice as many groundouts as fly outs, and that will always play.
Carl Edwards was particularly effective, for his third straight solid outing. His curve today was especially sharp, making Ketel Marte look silly with three straight curves. He backed that up with two more to Gregor Blanco. That brief blip where he had no confidence in it and was cutting it off and leaving it either inside or hanging over the plate is hopefully behind him.
Kyle Schwarber’s day didn’t get any better than the last few, with three Ks before Joe basically mercy-pulled him so he wouldn’t have to face Chafin. Worryingly, Schwarber chased everything and also whiffed on pitches in the zone. His numbers since his return are still good, but this was a particularly ugly weekend.
It’s fitting that the two guys who have been propping up the bottom of the lineup and yet are part of the OBP problems are the ones who separated the Cubs from Arizona today. Baez and Happ have high-power but aren’t on base a lot. Thankfully, Jake Barrett—for some reason—decided to leave a slider in the zone with two strikes on Baez, who promptly hit it to Flagstaff (463 feet). They both need to find their way on base more often than they do now, but at least for the moment they’ll pop in a big way every so often.
Pedro Strop provided another clean inning, meaning he’s given up five hits in his last 16 innings of work and one earned run. That, with 16 Ks to five walks and a 3-to-1 K-to-BB ratio, is more than acceptable. He had the eighth inning role before the game got out of hand, so clearly Joe has noticed his work of late.
Top WPA Play: Baez’s bomb in the eighth that was the deathblow for Arizona this afternoon. (+.185)
Bottom WPA Play: A Gregor Blanco walk in the fifth that put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs, which Arrieta escaped with a sac bunt, sac fly, and strikeout. (-.080)
A .500 trip isn’t exactly what was prescribed, but not total disaster. Now it’s time to feast on the remedial class of the NL and Blue Jays. Onwards…
Lead photo Mark J. Rebilas—USA Today Sports