Whatever questions the Cubs might have in their October rotation after the first two spots, the only question about the top guy right now is whether Jake Arrieta can do enough in his final three starts of the season to win the Cubs’ first Cy Young Award in 23 years.
“I don’t do the voting,” said Arrieta’s most vocal lobbyist, Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “But obviously I get to see him every day. And I’m seeing an incredible performance, the full body of work – it’s staggering.”
Arrieta (19-6) has the second-best ERA (1.96) in the majors as he faces the Brewers Tuesday night in his second attempt to earn a 20th win. He could become the first Cubs’ 20-game winner since Jon Lieber in 2001.
“I’ve had a Cy Young Award winner with David [Price in Tampa Bay],” Maddon said. “And [former Ray James] Shields came close. I’ve seen it. And those guys were really, really good. I’ve not seen anything like this, the combination of pure stuff and results.
“It’s incredible to watch.”
On the other hand, the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke has the majors’ top ERA (1.65) and improved to 18-3 when he beat the Pirates.
But with three starts left Arrieta has the second-lowest post-All-Star ERA in history (9-1, 0.95, 0.83 WHIP). Greinke in the second half: 10-1, 2.03, 0.85.
“You have to consider what’s happening down the stretch, how the guy’s performed, what he means to his team,” Maddon said. “That’s why I really believe that Jake should land at the top.
“But who knows [what goes into the voting decisions]. “I just know what I”ve seen has been outstanding to watch, and I’ve never seen it before.”
Minor Matters: The Cubs on Monday named Class AA Tennessee teammates Willson Contreras and right-hander Ryan Williams their minor league player and pitcher of the year.
Contreras, 23, won the Southern League batting title (.333) and produced an .891 OPS while performing as one of the best defensive catchers in the system, according to scouts and team player development officials.
Williams, 23, combined to go 14-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) combined at Class A South Bend and Tennessee (10-2, 2.76 in 17 starts after the promotion).