This, I imagine, is what the Phillies had in mind when they signed Jake Arrieta to a three-year deal worth $75 million in early March:
Jake Arrieta, Wicked 79mph Curveball (grip/release/spin). 🤢
Looks like Jake got in his time machine and traveled back to 2015. Watch out. pic.twitter.com/clpqlUlnL1
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 20, 2018
Here’s the line on Arrieta’s masterful performance of what was a scorching-hot Pittsburgh Pirates team before last night:
7IP, 1H, 2BB, 10K
Now look, you can read more traditional takes about his dominant performance on pretty much any site today. But I want to provide something different for you, loyal reader, so here’s the deal. I will mention that Arrieta retired 17 of the last 18 overwhelmed and defeated Pirates hitters he faced. That the only hit he allowed was an infield single. That his stuff was filthy, evidenced by the 14 swings and misses he generated last night. That is five more than his previous first two starts combined. Such details are salient, but allow me to regale you in a different way. See this garden hose reel?
Yeah, you do. Well, if you said to me, “Hey nerd, relax with the numbers, just give me a weird carnal metaphor to describe what happened last night,” I would say, “Wow. That’s aggressive. I thought you would never ask.” And I would just show you that reel. And then I would tell you the hose represents Arrieta, and for 97 pitches over seven dominant innings, Arrieta cranked that reel’s handle and unfurled his sizable being all over the Pirates. The hose never overlapped or tangled, forcing him to wind it back up, as they sometimes do. Nay, it was a seamless and breathtaking demonstration.
Look at this:
Phillies starter Jake Arrieta with 9 Ks!!!
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) April 20, 2018
Also, allow some of this to course through your veins, infiltrate the outer membrane of your cells and seep into your mitochondria:
The opposing pitcher in that game … Jake Arrieta. pic.twitter.com/UqG7PtkB3E
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) April 20, 2018
It is the powerhouse of the cell.
This is why the Phillies signed the former Cy Young Award winner. Imagine Arrieta throwing pitches like the ones above against NL East foes during high-leverage late inning situations in August. Tingles.
There will be a day when a more academic focus on Arrieta’s performance will be warranted, but the old small sample size qualifier limits the depth or validity of the information presently available. At the moment, Arrieta’s HR/9 rate is down from 1.23 last season to 0.51 this season. His ground ball percentage is up from 45.1% to 65.2%. His opponent average, WHIP, BABIP, xFIP, and hard contact rates are each markedly improved from a season ago. His four-seam fastball velocity is down about a full mile per hour, while it has remained steady on his secondary pitches. There will be a time, and soon, when we can make consequential interpretations of the numbers, but I’m not sure we need the deep dive on what it all means after three starts and 17.1 innings pitched.
For now, I think this assessment of Arrieta will suffice:
I wish I could turn this Jake Arrieta performance into some type of soft fabric or material so that I could pack it into my pillow case and let it provide me comfort through the night.
— Bob Wankel (@BobWankelCB) April 20, 2018
Like some type of cotton, or maybe feather, you know?