Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta probably won’t win his second National League Cy Young Award in three years this fall, but he has put himself on the edges of that conversation with a month left in the season.
Who would have believed even that much was possible in May — or even as recently as the All-Star break?
‘‘I just feel good about the way I’m throwing the ball,’’ said Arrieta, who on a night he labored without his best stuff still pitched six scoreless innings to beat the Pirates 4-1 on Tuesday.
‘‘In the first half, for the majority of my starts, I wasn’t able to limit damage and either preserve a lead or keep us in the ballgame. I’ve been able to make some adjustments, and it’s paid off.’’
Arrieta (14-8) has the best ERA in the majors (1.69) since the start of July. He’s 7-2 in that 11-start stretch.
He hasn’t allowed an earned run since the first inning of his start Aug. 18 against the Blue Jays, a span of 17 innings.
‘‘Where I’m at now, I feel confident even if I don’t have my good stuff,’’ said Arrieta, who needed 41 pitches to get through two innings but rebounded to retire 13 of the last 15 men he faced.
Arrieta, whose ERA was 4.67 through June, suddenly is one off the NL lead in victories and ranks seventh in ERA (3.36), sixth in batting average against (.228) and 10th in WHIP (1.18).
His streak has been a big part of the Cubs’ second-half push into first place in the NL Central. They lead the second-place Brewers by 3½ games.
Heart in Texas
A big part of Arrieta’s attention this week has been on loved ones in the Houston area trying to withstand the continuing impact of Hurricane Harvey.
‘‘The people we’re closest to, we’re in direct contact with pretty much on an hourly basis to make sure they’re doing OK,’’ Arrieta said of those who remain stuck in their homes. ‘‘There’s a lot of people that are much worse off than the people I’m close to.’’
He said he and teammates are providing support to victims.
Manager Joe Maddon said a portion of the proceeds from his ‘‘Respect 90 Burnout Classic’’ charity event Saturday in Glenview are being redirected to hurricane relief, and the Cubs are committing proceeds from the 50-50 raffle Wednesday to relief efforts.
With his scoreless ninth inning, closer Wade Davis broke Ryan Dempster’s 11-year-old franchise record for consecutive save chances converted with 27. He has converted 33 in a row overall, dating to a blown save last Sept. 2 with the Royals.
‘‘He’s rock-solid,’’ Arrieta said. ‘‘He doesn’t show any emotion. He just executes pitch after pitch. He doesn’t give in. And he’s a very unique closer in the sense that he’s got four pitches that he pretty much can utilize at any time.’’
A team spokesman said Davis didn’t want to talk about the record and make the game about himself.
Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.