Whatever Cubs have in mind, Jake Arrieta plans to finish strong

Whatever Cubs have in mind, Jake Arrieta plans to finish strong
August 17, 2014, 6:00 pm
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NEW YORK — Whatever the Cubs have in mind, Jake Arrieta plans to finish strong.

Arrieta continued his breakthrough season on Sunday afternoon at Citi Field, dominating the New York Mets and allowing only two hits across seven shutout innings in a 2-1 victory. After everything it took to get to this point, he doesn’t want it to stop. 

Arrieta (2.61 ERA) has become the change-of-scenery billboard for The Cubs Way after last summer’s trade from the Baltimore Orioles, harnessing the stuff that was once supposed to make him a frontline starter at Camden Yards. 

Now that Dan Straily, Felix Doubront and Jacob Turner are in the organization after another round of deal-making, general manager Jed Hoyer says the Cubs will have to get creative to give looks to their new group of talented-but-flawed pitchers.

Arrieta wants the ball — the Mets couldn’t touch his curve, striking out nine times — through the end of September.

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“As far as being shut down, I’ve heard nothing about that,” Arrieta said. “Obviously, I would love to remain (in the rotation) and finish the season out, however many starts I have left. I feel fresh, I feel healthy. So, yeah, I’m good.”

Arrieta wound up with the no-decision after Pedro Strop’s blown save in the eighth inning and Starlin Castro’s game-winning homer leading off the ninth. 

After all the speculation — Castro essentially being trade bait to get an elite pitcher to pair with Arrieta — the All-Star shortstop showed Met fans and the New York media what they’re missing by lining Jenrry Mejia’s 94-mph first-pitch fastball over the right-field wall for his 13th homer.

Arrieta began the season on the disabled list with right shoulder tightness and didn’t make his first start until May 3, going on a run that still put him in the All-Star conversation despite the late start. He’s 6-4 through 19 starts, accounting for 117-plus innings. 

Manager Rick Renteria left it open-ended during his pregame media session after getting a question about his expectations for Arrieta’s finish.

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“We have to see how he’s feeling,” Renteria said. “He’s obviously been pretty good, so it’s still one of those things — I think — where we monitor his pitch counts and his innings. It’s been something where he’s been grinding it out pretty good. 

“He’s given us quite a few outings where he’s gone deep into ballgames. But we’ll just continue to assess and evaluate and make that determination as we continue to move forward.” 

The Cubs could be looking at their potential 2015 Opening Day starter.

“I just want to make every start that I have lined up throughout the end of September,” Arrieta said. “If something comes up, I guess that will be addressed. But obviously I’d love to stay in the mix and finish out on a high note.”