Arrieta ready for audition with Cubs

Arrieta ready for audition with Cubs

July 29, 2013, 9:00 pm
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Cubs vs. Brewers, 1:20 p.m. & 7 p.m.
on Comcast SportsNet

On the hill:

Game 1 -- Carlos Villanueva (2-7, 4.23 ERA); Yovani Gallardo (8-9, 4.88 ERA)

Game 2 -- Jake Arrieta (1-2, 7.23 ERA); Tyler Thornburg (1-0, 2.95 ERA)

Game notes: This is Arrieta's first start as a Cub. The 27-year-old right-hander came over in the deal that sent veteran Scott Feldman to the Orioles. Arrieta was 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in five starts for Triple-A Iowa.

Brewers at at a glance: 44-61 (Last in National League Central, 19 GB Cardinals) ... -61 run differential ... 18-32 on the road.

Brewers pitching leaders: Wins - Yovani Gallardo (8); ERA - Kyle Lohse (3.22); WHIP - Kyle Lohse (1.13) Strikeouts - Gallardo (100); Saves - Jim Henderson (12)

Brewers batting leaders: Average - Jean Segura (.313); Home runs - Carlos Gomez (17); RBIs - Jonathan Lucroy (56); OPS - Gomez (.900); Stolen bases - Segura (31)

Click here for full game preview

The Cubs are already the seeing returns from flipping Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles. They didn’t load up on more Class-A prospects. They view Pedro Strop as a possible closer-in-waiting and Jake Arrieta as a potential piece for the rotation.

Arrieta doesn’t believe he’s a Triple-A pitcher. He’ll get the chance to prove it on Tuesday night in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers. Whether this winds up being a one-start audition on the North Side, or turns into a two-month showcase, well, the Cubs are about to find out.

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“The performance will do the (talking),” Arrieta said. “That will determine whether I stay here or I go back to Iowa. I don’t plan on going back. I plan on making it tough for them to decide and just kind of go from there.

“First and foremost, it’s great to be here. First time in Wrigley: As soon as I walked out and up those steps, I kind of got some chills.”

The Cubs wanted to jump the market and move their starting pitchers before more became available. In trading Feldman on July 2, they again went with the change-of-scenery theory.

Strop, a key bullpen piece for Baltimore’s 93-win team last season, had begun his Cubs career with 12 scoreless appearances before being charged with five runs in the ninth inning of a 5-0 loss to the Brewers on Monday night. Strop had emerged as the probable replacement once the front office trades closer Kevin Gregg.

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The Orioles once had high expectations for Arrieta, who pitched in the Futures Game and the Olympics in 2008 and appeared on their organization’s top-prospect lists across the years in Baseball America.

Arrieta made his big-league debut on June 10, 2010 at Camden Yards and beat the defending world champion New York Yankees that night. He became an Opening Day starter last year, but couldn’t put it all together in Baltimore, going 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA across parts of four seasons.

“It was almost like a weight off my shoulders,” Arrieta said. “My time there was great. I wouldn’t change it for the world. But there came a point where they felt a move needed to be made to better their team and better this team as well. I’ve got a lot to offer. I feel like I’m a guy who can go out there and be a bulldog and pitch deep into games.

“I know I can do it on a consistent basis. It’s just a matter of finally going out there and doing it."

The Cubs are hoping Arrieta will benefit by getting out of the American League East and working with pitching coach Chris Bosio, who has helped Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood take their careers to the next level.

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Arrieta is 27 years old and at a crossroads in his career. The Cubs have won both games started by Chris Rusin since the Matt Garza trade. They want to see Scott Baker (elbow) – who gave up two runs (one earned) in 3.1 innings on Monday with advanced Class-A Daytona – later this summer. They like Carlos Villanueva as a swingman. They need to find out about Arrieta.

“I’ve been on the big stage before,” Arrieta said. “I need to be out there every five days and continue to battle and progress and become better. I think my career is as a starter and I’m going to show I can keep it that way.”