It was one more evening of no-hit magic for the amazing Jake Arrieta. So of course the world bolted to attention. It’s supposed to. But there’s more to why we should really be paying attention.
With this guy, it’s not about one night anymore. It’s about many nights. It’s not about one game of ridiculous domination. It’s about all the domination he’s now strung together, game after game after game.
And all we have to do to comprehend his greatness is just compare him to the rest of the planet -- or the rest of the pitchers on this planet anyway. And when you do that, you realize something. There’s Jake Arrieta, and then there’s everybody else. And I’ve got the tidbits to prove it.
First off, a reminder of how hard it is to do what Arrieta just did. Both incumbent Cy Young Award winners pitched Thursday night. One of them (Dallas Keuchel) gave up 13 hits. The other gave up zero hits. First night in history where both defending Cy Young winners pitched and one allowed double-digit hits while the other forgot to allow any hits.
But now let’s start turning back the clock. An awesome nugget from ESPN Stats & Information: Since Aug. 30, Arrieta has almost as many no-hitters (two) as regular-season starts in which he actually gave up a run (three). Seriously.
OK, let’s keep going. Since Aug. 20, this man has made 13 starts and allowed a total of five earned runs. We found 322 starters who had allowed that many runs in ONE start since then.
But the wayback machine keeps on traveling. Let’s go back to the start of August. Arrieta has made 16 regular-season starts since then, pitched 119 1/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs. Stats & Info found eight pitchers who also have allowed seven earned runs since then -- in ONE INNING. And 26 teams have given up at least seven in an inning since August. While Arrieta has been giving up seven in basically half a season. That’s nuts.
Know what the OPS is of the hitters who have had to face him in those 16 starts? How about .373. Know what Arrieta’s OPS as a hitter is in the same period of time? That would be .649. Seriously.
But now let’s get into the real fun. Here’s Arrieta since June 21: He’s ripped off 24 consecutive quality starts, gone 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA and that’s not even the best part. He’s given up a mere 17 earned runs in those 24 starts. That’s 53 fewer than Chris Archer, who almost won the AL Cy Young last year. That’s 60 fewer than Jeff Samardzija, who was once considered the ace of Arrieta’s own team. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 140 innings, only two are even within 20 earned runs of this dude -- Kershaw (26 ER) and Zack Greinke (36 ER). Wow.
Or how ‘bout this: In 178 regular-season innings since then, Arrieta has given up just 91 hits. That’s 45 fewer than Cole Hamels (the only pitcher to beat Arrieta since June 21 -- by throwing a no-hitter of his own). It’s 50 fewer than John Lackey (who is fourth among all pitchers in ERA since then). And it’s 60 fewer than Johnny Cueto (who signed a six-year, $130-million contract in the middle of that stretch). Crazy.
And finally, there’s this: We regard Bob Gibson’s storied 1968 season -- the year he finished with a 1.12 ERA -- as the greatest by any starter in the live ball era, right? And with good reason. But guess what? Gibson never had ANY stretch of 24 starts within that season where his ERA was as low as Jake Arrieta’s 0.86 ERA over his past 24 starts. (The best Gibson could do: 0.90, from May 1, 1968 through Aug. 28, 1968).
Sooooo ... get the idea? Not only has no active pitcher ever had a stretch like this, but even Gibson -- at his greatest -- never had a stretch like this. Now that, friends, is what we call magic.