Jake Arrieta irked at outside speculation over heater, beats Crew
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MILWAUKEE — If Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta was chapped about talk of his early-season velocity, it was the Milwaukee Brewers who paid the price Sunday.
‘‘Everybody wants to talk about this and the Fangraphs articles, [but] I don’t care about that,’’ Arrieta said after striking out 10 in seven innings in the Cubs’ 7-4 victory against the Brewers at Miller Park in a second start in which his fastball was 2 or 3 mph down from where it usually is.
‘‘I know that kind of stuff can come and go from time to time. I had periods last year where I was at the same spot I am right now. I had one in June, near the All-Star break. It is what it is. I still have good feel for everything. The movement is really good. The command’s good. So when the 95-to-97 comes back, it’s going to be tough for teams. And it still is.’’
Arrieta admitted the ‘‘explosiveness’’ isn’t there right now.
‘‘Some guys would call it, like, a dead arm,’’ he said. ‘‘But I feel good. That’s all I’m worried about.’’
Arrieta talked even before the season started about trying to become more efficient, trying to get outs on two pitches or fewer by commanding his pitches better.
In two starts, he has allowed three earned runs in 13 innings — all three scoring on a home run by Ryan Braun in the third inning Sunday — while striking out 16 and walking four. He has won both starts.
‘‘He was really on top of his game,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘And I love the delivery; I love the command. That’s the thing. He didn’t hit 95 or 96 or whatever, but he knew where the fastball was going.
‘‘I just think he’s not feeling his velocity yet. But I think as he stays in this delivery and the velocity shows up — even if it doesn’t, I’ll take that any day of the week over shotgun 94, 95.’’
As the top projected free agent on the market next winter, Arrieta figures to be under heightened scrutiny throughout the season. That’s fine with him, provided the analysts don’t forget to break it down again when his fastball is back to its usual level.
‘‘I don’t worry about it because I know I’m smart enough to work around that and the velocity’s still good enough to get it by guys and to do certain things in certain situations with it,’’ said Arrieta, who can throw his curveball at speeds ranging 7 mph apart and his cut fastball 6 mph apart. ‘‘I have a really good feel for everything.’’