Jake Arrieta comfortable playing the 'ace' in Cubs rotation

Jake Arrieta comfortable playing the 'ace' in Cubs rotation
August 11, 2014, 11:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

It doesn't matter how you define the term "ace." Every good team in baseball needs one.

Can Jake Arrieta be that guy long-term for the Cubs?

An "ace" stablizes the rotation, plays stopper when the team is on a losing streak and sets the tone for the pitching staff.

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Sure, there are maybe only a select few "No. 1" starters out there in Major League Baseball right now. And this isn't a comparison between Arrieta and, say, Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez.

But the Cubs are looking for some impact pitching and they're using Arrieta as the example.

The 28-year-old righty came over to the Cubs in the Scott Feldman deal in July 2013 after failing to live up to his top-prospect status with the Baltimore Orioles.

He put together nine nice starts down the stretch for the Cubs last season (4-2, 3.66 ERA), but after getting a delayed start to the 2014 campaign with a shoulder issue, he has emerged as a true frontline pitcher this year. Arrieta is under team control through the 2018 season.

Is he good with being tabbed the Cubs' ace?

"It's a position that I've kinda been in in the past," Arrieta said. "I kinda relish that opportunity. It's something that's very important for our ballclub and for every ballclub. There's a lot of responsibility there.

"It's a positon that I'm confident to be in and comfortable in. Just have to continue to work hard and do anything and everything possible to continue to make strides. If I'm able to do that, I'll be in that position for quite a while."

Arrieta took the tough-luck loss Monday night, working into the eighth inning and holding the Brewers to just five hits and two runs in 7.1 innings. He now sits at 6-4 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.05 WHIP on the season.

"Start to finish, it was a little bit better consistency," he said. "A lot of ground balls, a lot of early outs early in the game. ... They've got a really, really deep lineup and it just shows by what they've been doing and how they've been playing as a team thus far this year."

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Arrieta got rocked his last time out, giving up 13 hits and nine earned runs in 5-plus innings in Denver. But he's not the first pitcher to have a rough day in the Coors Field altitude, and the Rockies lineup was loaded with six guys hitting .285 or higher, plus two-time All-Star Carlos Gonzalez.

Prior to that game in Colorado, Arrieta had rattled off 10 straight quality starts. The Cubs are a last-place team on the fast track to 90 losses, but they're 10-8 when they hand Arrieta the ball.

As the Cubs try to transition into a winning ballclub, Arrieta figures to be a big part of their future.