PHILADELPHIA – Jake Arrieta knows about expectations dating back to his days as the opening day starter with the Baltimore Orioles in 2012.
Since joining the Chicago Cubs last July, Arrieta has shown brief flashes of dominance offset by bouts of wildness and high pitch counts.
But his recent success suggests he might be turning the corner in his development.
After extending his scoreless streak to 16 2/3 innings Friday night in a 2-1 win at Philadelphia, Arrieta showed he might be capable of taking on a greater role in the Cubs’ rotation if ace Jeff Samardzija and or Jason Hammel are traded.
“I don’t think any amount of pressure could be more than what I put myself under,” Arrieta said after allowing two hits in seven innings while striking out a season-high nine and walking only one. “I always worked as hard as I do now. Things worked out in a strange way during my time there (with the Orioles).
“I just think coming over here and being able to be myself and let it all out, air it out, not holding anything back, that has been that launching pad for me to take off and have success on a consistent basis.”
Arrieta’s scoreless streak started in the second inning of a 2-1 win over the Mets on June 3 in which he allowed seven hits and walked three in only 4 2/3 innings because his pitch count reached 105. But he pitched out of traffic in his 3 2/3 innings despite control issues and has walked only one in his past 13 innings.
“Once the ball gets rolling, things kind to get easier,” said Arrieta, who didn't make his 2013 debut until May 3 because of right shoulder tightness prior to spring training.
Arrieta’s last pitch was a 97 mph fastball past Brown, and he also displayed a sharp-breaking curve.