Scott Boras says Jake Arrieta still elite despite fastball velocity drop

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, pushed back on the notion Arrieta isn't an elite pitcher just because his fastball velocity has dropped this year, while also insisting it's way too small of a sample size to judge the free agent to be.

"The question becomes what's [Clayton] Kershaw averaging?" Boras said Saturday at Dodger Stadium. "He's throwing 92.5 mph. [Zack] Greinke is throwing 91.8 mph. [Max] Scherzer, when he was a free agent, was throwing 92 mph.

"We're going to sit here and evaluate a player on a 60-day moment or a 10-start moment when he has three years of history. Don't do it. That's not fair. That's not an evaluation."

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Kershaw's fastball velocity has dropped 0.6 mph since 2015, and Greinke has lost 1.4 mph since then. Arrieta was averaging 94.6 mph on his fastball in 2015, when he won the Cy Young award but has seen it drop 2.5 mph. Scherzer's fastball velocity has actually increased over the past couple of years, though it went down the year before he became a free agent. Even Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted the dip in velocity could be the reason for the 10 home runs Arrieta has given up this year -- including two in a loss Friday night -- as well as his 4.92 ERA. Boras said it's not that unusual at this point in the season.

"I wanted to bring this up because when you guys (reporters) talk about what an elite pitcher is, I want you to know Scherzer [in 2014] gave up seven runs, five runs, four runs, four runs and 10 runs, all before June struck," Boras said. "My point is he's an elite pitcher. He did all that in his platform year. Jake is throwing at better levels than what Scherzer did."

Scherzer actually bottomed out on June 17, 2014 when he gave up those 10 runs but went on a nice run from there to the end of the season producing an ERA of 2.58, including giving up only 102 hits in 122 innings pitched. It led to a mammoth 7-year, $210 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

"The reality of it is Jake has this history," Boras said. "He has a great history. These guys (elite pitchers) have not done it in one year. He did in '14, '15, '16 and now he's doing it in '17."

One thing Arrieta is doing, Boras pointed out, is making all his starts, and even though his numbers are down right now, Boras insists teams will look at the bigger picture, no matter the velocity on his fastball.

"All these guys are still doing well and all their velocities dropped," Boras said. "The key thing is they were able to do what they did three years running.

"What does Jake have an advantage over all of them? He wins big games."

Boras pointed out the success Arrieta had in the postseason in 2015 and then again in 2016 when he won Game 6 of the World Series. He didn't deny he'll need to have better success no matter what the velocity numbers are, but now is not the time to judge him, Boras said.

"The teams go by the history and what you do in the postseason," Boras said. "What elite have done to get to where elite is. First thing is durability. His fastball is well in the range of what the elite are in the group. If you're talking about [losing] 4-5 mph, maybe. He's throwing at the same level after 10 starts he did last year."