Jake Arrieta broke out in 2014, yet he managed to take another huge step forward in 2015, catapulting himself into the top spot in Fantasy value among all pitchers. He led the majors in wins (22) and was second in quality starts (29), ERA (1.77) and WHIP (0.86). Arrieta did a great job of avoiding hits on balls in play (.248) and home runs (0.39 HR/9), but given that he was one of the leaders in soft contact rate, he just might be able to come close to those marks in 2016. Even with a slight dropoff, Arrieta needs to be drafted as one of the top five starting pitchers.
Arrieta and the Cubs avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $10.7 million contract Friday night, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Arrieta will receive a salary bump in excess of $7 million after winning the NL Cy Young Award in 2015. He will have one more year of arbitration eligibility remaining, and will have a good chance to top his 2016 salary if he is anywhere near as dominant as he was a year ago. Arrieta will head the Cubs' rotation this season, making him the odds on favorite to take the ball Opening Day.
Arrieta was named the National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Wednesday, MLB.com reports. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke both had a case, but Arrieta walks away with his first career Cy Young award after finishing ninth in the NL vote in 2014. The honor is well deserved for Arrieta, who led the league in wins (22) and complete games (4), and finished second in innings pitched (229), ERA (1.77) and WHIP (0.86). Arrieta was also exceptional at keeping the ball in the yard, allowing just 10 homers thanks to a 22.8 percent flyball rate (third-lowest in NL).
Arrieta will start Game 2 of the NLCS, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. Arrieta was unusually average against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS. Arguably the front-runner for the Cy Young award, the 29-year-old uncharacteristically gave up four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out nine batters in 5.2 innings. Still, Arrieta was able to pick up the win as the Cubs were able to hit six home runs in the contest. While it's unlikely he will get that type of run support again with either the Mets or Dodgers set to play Chicago in the NLDS, his incredible hot streak on the mound should make him a must play most nights.
Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the National League Championship Series for the Cubs, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Jake Arrieta will not get the opening nod Saturday against the winner of the Dodgers-Mets series. He will take the mound in Game 2 instead.
Arrieta will start Game 3 of NLDS, ESPN's Jesse Rogers reports. After a masterful Wildcard performance, Arrieta will get a bit of time off until he has to pitch again. He will most likely face Michael Wacca in a pivotal Game 3 matchup on Monday.