PHILADELPHIA – The Cubs will really need Jake Arrieta when they trade away 40 percent of their rotation again.
Arrieta is living up to his potential now, extending his scoreless streak to 16.2 innings with Friday night’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Arrieta (2-1, 2.09 ERA) didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Domonic Brown placed a ball that bounced off the left-field line for a double. Maybe this could be a frontline guy when Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are pitching somewhere else.
[MORE CUBS: Starlin Castro doesn’t think he got hit on purpose]
Hopefully, the Cubs get back some talent that’s major-league ready, like they did with Arrieta and Pedro Strop in last summer’s Scott Feldman deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer “jumped the market” last year with that Feldman trade on July 2, a reminder things will heat up in the next few weeks.
“As far as pressure goes, I don’t think any amount of pressure could be as much as what I put myself under throughout my years in Baltimore,” Arrieta said. “I’ve always been the competitor that I am. I’ve always worked as hard as I do now. It’s just that things kind of worked out in a strange way.”
Arrieta went seven innings against the Phillies (28-37) while Strop worked a scoreless eighth. Neil Ramirez escaped a jam in the ninth as closer Hector Rondon rested with right elbow soreness.
Manager Rick Renteria downplayed any concerns about Rondon, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and missed most of the next two seasons.
“Hector had a little bit of soreness two days ago,” Renteria said. “He’s going to throw a pen tomorrow to make sure he’s OK, so that’s why we kind of held back.
“It was nothing to really concern ourselves with, so we didn’t think it was a big deal.”
An Opening Day starter in 2012, Arrieta put up a 5.46 ERA across parts of four seasons with the Orioles and got bumped back to Triple-A Norfolk again last season. He needed the change of scenery.
Arrieta is 28 years old and under club control through 2017, making him a potential foundation piece for this rebuild. The Cubs (27-38) will be selling again soon, but the returns could have instant impact.
“Coming over here and being able to be myself,” Arrieta said. “It’s just go out and kind of let it all out, air it out. Not holding anything back has really kind of been that launching pad for me to take off and be able to have success on a consistent basis.”