Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta has entered rarefied territory.
The former TCU star threw his second no-hitter Thursday night, beating the Reds 16-0.
But the no-hitters don’t even do justice to the type of run Arrieta (who attended Plano East) has been on since June 21.
Since then, the 2016 National League Cy Young winner has thrown a major league record 24 consecutive quality starts, allowing a combined 17 earned runs in the span. To put it in context, the Rangers have tagged American League Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel for 16 runs in his past three starts against them.
Thursday’s no-hitter wasn’t as dominant as the one against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, when he struck out 12 and walked one. Against the Reds, he walked four and struck out six. He also had two hits, a walk, and a run scored.
“The pregame [bullpen session] was as sloppy as it was in LA before that no-hitter so I don’t put a lot into it,” Arrieta said. “I came out and just tried to mix. I was a little off with in my command but was able to keep them off-balance and later in the game pound the strike zone with some good movement and keep the ball down.”
The last time Arrieta lost a game, the pitcher had to throw a no-hitter to beat him. That was Cole Hamels in his last start with the Phillies on July 25. The last time Arrieta didn’t have a quality start was June 16 against the Indians, when he allowed four runs on three hits and six walks in five innings. His four walks Thursday are the most he’s had since.
Against the Dodgers, he forced eight ground balls and eight fly-ball outs. On Thursday, he included 11 ground-ball outs and eight flyouts.
“I knew there was quite a few [ground-ball outs] so pitching to contact was the goal today and I did a pretty good job of that,” he said. “I envisioned pitching like this, even when I had a 5 [ERA] in Baltimore I expected to get to this point at some point. I had visualizations of throwing no-hitters or throwing shutouts so now they’re starting to happen for me. I don’t take any of it for granted.”
Some of Arrieta’s eye-popping numbers, according to Elias Sports Bureau, ESPN Stats and Info and other outlets:
24 Consecutive quality starts since June 21, the longest such streak by a starter since 1913 (the oldest records available).
3 Other pitchers have made similar runs since 1913. Greg Maddux from June 1997 to April 1998, and Johan Santana in 2004 held the previous record with 21 consecutive quality starts. The Astros’ Mike Scott had 20 in a row in 1986, the year he won the National League Cy Young.
8 Consecutive quality starts for the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg, who has the second-longest active streak of quality starts.
0.86 Arrieta’s ERA since June 21 over 24 consecutive quality starts.
17 Earned runs allowed in the past 24 starts. Only two pitchers with at least 140 innings in the same span are within 20 earned runs of Arrieta — Clayton Kershaw (26 earned runs) and the Zack Greinke (36).
▪ Noah Syndergaard is leaving his mark on the game, literally. The hard-throwing right-hander from Mansfield Legacy, who averaged a 98.5 mph fastball in his last start April 18, left a lasting impression on his catcher Kevin Plawecki. A pitch that Plawecki blocked with his chest left an imprint of the catcher’s necklace and cross.
▪ Former TCU slugger Kevin Cron is starting to get hot for Double A Mobile (Diamondbacks). Cron has four hits, including his first homer of the season, two doubles, three RBIs, and four runs scored in his past four games.
▪ Former TCU star Jason Coats is batting .377 with two homers, five doubles, a triple, and nine RBIs for Triple A Charlotte (White Sox).