Jake Arrieta Is Posting Video Game Numbers

Arrieta threw his second no-hitter in less than a year last night, and digging deeper into his numbers, you'd think he's pitching in a video game.

Look, I'm not going to lie, I was worried about Jake Arrieta coming into the 2016 season.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been. After all, the guy is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner for a reason. I get it. But in a piece I wrote this spring,  I cautioned against taking Arrieta too early in fantasy drafts because I was concerned about the big jump in his innings last season.

It wasn't a crazy notion. Arrieta threw 248 2/3 innings last year, including the postseason. That was quite a leap from the 156 2/3 innings he had amassed the year before.

As it turns out, I was an idiot.

Arrieta was brilliant again on Thursday night in twirling the second no-hitter of his career, a 16-0 blasting of the Cincinnati Reds.

What made his second no-no particularly historic was the performance of the offense. ESPN came out with these numbers, but I crunched them first, as the good 'ol Twitter time stamp will show.

Sorry, ESPN, but you gotta get up way earlier in the morning if you want to out-stat this guy. And I'm not sure if you'll ever find a more lopsided  FanGraphs win probability chart.

So take a bow, Cubs bats. You got to make a little history, too.

But back to Arrieta, who pitched a magnificent game, even if it wasn't as dominant as his first career no-no last year. 

Against the Reds on Thursday, he walked four batters and struck out six.  Last year against the Dodgers, he struck out 12 and walked one for a Game Score of 98. Thursday night's Game Score of 89 was awfully good, but it wasn't even the best we've seen so far this year. 

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt IP H ER BB SO GSc 
1 Jaime Garcia 4/14/16 STL MIL W 7-0 9 1 0 1 13 97
2 Vincent Velasquez 4/14/16 PHI SDP W 3-0 9 3 0 0 16 97
3 Chris Sale 4/15/16 CHW TBR W 1-0 9 2 0 0 9 92
4 Drew Smyly 4/19/16 TBR BOS W 3-0 8 1 0 2 11 89
5 Stephen Strasburg 4/19/16 WSN MIA W 7-0 8 3 0 2 10 84

That would tie him with Drew Smyly for the fourth-highest Game Score in 2016.

The nine starts between Arrieta's no-hitter last year -- on August 30 -- and this year's is the third-shortest span in MLB history. Johnny Vander Meer, the only pitcher to throw back-to-back no-nos, and Warren Spahn (five starts), are the only hurlers who had shorter spans than Arrieta.

Arrieta has also now thrown two no-hitters since he last lost a regular season game, and in his last 24 starts, he's 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA and those two no-nos. 

Do you remember the last game Arrieta lost?

That's right, gang. In order to beat Jake Arrieta, you're going to have to throw a no-hitter. Sorry about that. 

Simply put, he's been in another stratosphere since the middle of last season.

Arrieta also became the first Chicago Cub to pitch a no-hitter in back-to-back seasons, and is just the third Cub to throw multiple no-hitters with the team, joining Larry Corcoran (3) and Ken Holtzman (2). He's also the fourth defending Cy Young winner to throw a no-hitter, joining Clayton Kershaw, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax.

It certainly seems as if last year's innings jump isn't going to have much of an effect this year, at least not so far. In 31 innings he is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA, a 2.79 fielding independent pitching (FIP), striking out 7.55 batters per nine innings while walking 1.74. His average fastball speed of 93.9 mph heading into Thursday night was just a bit lower than last year's 94.4 mph, but right in line with his career numbers.

In other words, he's fine.

Debate has been growing about whether Noah Syndergaard has overtaken Kershaw as the best pitcher in baseball. And based on pure stuff, it's hard to argue it could be anyone other than those two.

But as Arrieta has proved once again, he should also still be a part of that conversation.