1. Jake Arrieta, Chicago Cubs. What can you say about the kind of run he's on? Here, let's do this. These are the number of runs Arrieta has allowed in each of his past 18 starts, working backward from Tuesday's three-hit shutout over the Brewers that made him the majors' first 20-game winner and the Cubs' first since Jon Lieber in 2001: 0, 2, 1, 0, 0, 1, 0, 3, 0, 0, 2, 3, 0, 1, 2, 1, 1, 0. That's 18 consecutive quality starts. He's 14-1 with a 0.94 ERA in this stretch. Opponents are hitting .158 against him and he has allowed just two home runs in 134 innings. I mean, we could go on and on with fancy numbers ...
Jake Arrieta has an ERA of 0.86 in 13 starts since the ASB. No pitcher has ever recorded a sub-1.00 ERA after ASB with at least 13 starts.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2015
Jake Arrieta's shutout gives him a 0.48 ERA since Aug. 4, 4th-best mark in 10-game stretch since ER became official in both leagues in 1913.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2015
Pitching just doesn't get better than 2nd half 2015 Jake Arrieta. Completely dominant. Eliciting bad contact from absolutely everyone.— Matt Spiegel (@MattSpiegel670) September 23, 2015
As Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to begin his postgame news conference: "Jake is good." As for Arrieta, he was a little more subdued. "I've alluded to it before but it just means that I'm putting my team in positions to win ballgames," he said. "At the end of the day, that's our goal, is to try and pile on as many as we can especially with where we're at in the season."
Clayton Kershaw had 17 consecutive quality starts last season so Arrieta has passed him and, according to the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index, becomes just the 10th pitcher with at least 18 in a row since 1914. The last pitcher with 18 in a row was Johan Santana with the Twins in 2004, when he had 21. Santana's run, in the heart of the big-offense era, is one of the most amazing I've seen -- he went 18-2 with a 1.34 ERA. Maybe I'll do a more in-depth post on great runs before Arrieta's next start. Aside from that, he creeps a little closer to Zack Greinke in season ERA -- 1.65 to 1.88 -- meaning Greinke can't afford a bad start or the Cy Young Award odds may shift in favor of Arrieta.
By the way, when the Orioles traded Arrieta to the Cubs in July of 2013, this was Arrieta's comment about a change of scenery after his struggles in Baltimore: "I think that is really the best way to look at it. This is something that is going to do me a lot of good."
2. Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins. Santana's streak of quality starts stretched to five. Hey, considering how poorly he pitched when he first came off his PED suspension, even a five-game run like this is a nice surprise. He allowed one run in seven innings as the Twins beat the Indians 3-1. Combined with Houston's loss, the Twins climbed to 2 games back for the second wild card and pretty much knocked out the Indians, now 4.5 behind the Astros, but also behind the Twins and Angels.
The Indians were left pondering a missed third strike call to Eduardo Escobar that would have ended the third inning. Instead, Tom Hallion called it a ball and Escobar walked. Salazar lost his composure or focus, because Aaron Hicks tripled, Brian Dozier doubled and Joe Mauer doubled and the Twins had their three runs. Salazar let known his frustration after the game: "Right now, as a team, we can't be losing games," he said. "And the umpires know these are really important games. They can't be missing calls like that."
6 out of the 10 HR hit by Greg Bird this year have given the Yankees the lead. That's called "clutch". pic.twitter.com/OyP5JlHunk— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) September 23, 2015
4. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners. Remember him? He hit two of Seattle's four home runs off Jeremy Guthrie, whose return to the rotation in place of Danny Duffy was awful (2 1/3 IP, 9 H, 9 R) as the Mariners won 11-2. Cano is now up to .282/.333/.444 with 19 home runs, including .329/.395/.554 in the second half. The Royals fell to 7-13 in September and have a 5.47 staff ERA -- 28th in the majors.
5. Lazarito. Who? He's a 16-year-old Cuban prospect -- full name Lazaro Robersy Armenteros Arango, but they call him Lazarito -- who has established residency in Haiti. As MLB.com reports, keep on eye on this kid.