Trade for Arrieta, Strop could be classic

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs’ July 2 trade of right-hander Scott Feldman to the Orioles for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop appeared to continue their path toward another year without a competitive team.

But unlike in 2012, when the Cubs finished with the second-worst record in the National League after trading five veteran players before the deadline, this season’s trades have taken on a much different tone.

In Arrieta and Strop the Cubs may have found the next staff ace and closer in one deal.

Strop has worked nicely into the back end of the Cubs bullpen and Arrieta, after his second straight dominant performance on Friday, will now have time over the last quarter of the season to establish himself securely in the Cubs’ 2014 rotation. Manager Dale Sveum said Arrieta has a spot for the rest of the season.

The former Baltimore starter shut down the St. Louis Cardinals on two hits through seven innings Friday, winning his first game with his new club.

“The biggest thing is to be able to get into a routine again,” Arrieta said after the Cubs shut out the Cardinals 7-0. “I now know I will be taking the ball every five days for this team. This is something I envisioned myself doing ever since the trade was made. My mindset was to just go about my business and be consistent whether it’s here or in Iowa.”

With a young rotation struggling to establish itself, Arrieta’s performance gave the manager and his coaching staff a lift they needed.

“That is the kind of stuff the power arms can do when they are throwing strikes and making pitches,” Sveum said. “He made some really good pitches with his 91 mph cutter -- slider -- whatever you want to call it. He made some really good pitches in key situations and counts. When you thought he was going to lose some good hitters he made really good pitches down and away on the black.”

Arrieta gives the Theo Epstein-Jed Hoyer group a lot of hope for the future. Arrieta has an 0.69 ERA for the two games he has started for the Cubs, and more impressive than his ERA are his hits-against numbers. He has given up just four hits while facing 42 hitters.

Strop has quietly established himself as the top power arm in the bullpen. He has seven holds in 19 games as a Cub. Strop has struck out 21 and walked seven in 18.2 innings of work.