The Chicago Cubs are virtually unrecognizable these days.
The team traded away many of its familiar faces at the deadline, and the current roster features a lot of strangers.
The list of recent subtractions got even bigger on Thursday, as the club released veteran starting pitcher Jake Arrieta.
It was Arrieta’s second stint with the team.
His first stint resulted in a World Series title, but this time around, the results were not nearly the same.
The righty struggled at every turn this season, and ultimately, Chicago felt the need to let him go.
Arrieta’s Dreadful 2021 Season
It’s clear that Arrieta isn’t half the player he used to be.
With age, that happens to almost everyone.
Once an ace, the 35-year-old was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball this season before being released.
He pitched to a 6.88 ERA, 6.12 FIP, and 1.76 WHIP over 20 outings.
He was tagged with 11 losses, and the Cubs went 6-14 in his starts.
Arrieta was relatively serviceable for the first couple months of the season, but he ran into a wall once the summer months rolled around.
From June on, he made 10 starts, and he got shelled to the tune of a 10.44 ERA, .385 opponent batting average, and 1.131 opponent OPS over that span.
If an offensive player batted .385 with a 1.131 OPS over a full season, he’d be a lock to win the MVP award.
That’s how bad things got for Arrieta on the mound.
Appreciating Arrieta’s Better Days
Now that we’ve talked about Arrieta’s miserable 2021 season, let’s give him the credit he deserves for the player he used to be.
Arrieta’s first stint with the Cubs lasted five seasons.
It started in 2013 and ended in 2017.
During that stretch, he won a Cy Young Award, was named an All-Star, received MVP votes one season, and most importantly, helped the Cubs to a World Series title in 2016.
He was truly one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball during that time, and the numbers support that claim.
He pitched to a 2.73 ERA over those five years.
His most impressive campaign came in 2015, which was the year he won the National League Cy Young Award and also received MVP consideration.
That season, he posted a minuscule 1.77 ERA, 2.35 FIP, and 0.87 WHIP.
He led the league in wins (22), hits per nine innings (5.9), and home runs per nine innings (0.4).
He also tossed a league-best four complete games and three shutouts.
One of those shutouts was a no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Cubs fans vividly remember.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 30, 2017
But one wasn’t enough for Arrieta.
He threw another no-hitter in 2016.
OTD in 2016: Jake Arrieta threw his second career no-hitter!
Jake's stats in 2015-2016 were RIDICULOUS 🤯 pic.twitter.com/IpiaFsRPsL
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 21, 2020
On the topic of 2016, Arrieta was huge during Chicago’s historic title run that year.
He made four postseason starts and managed a very solid ERA of 3.63.
When Arrieta calls it quits on his playing days (which could happen very soon), he’ll always be able to say that he had a major hand in ending the Cubs’ 108-year title drought.
He has a lot to be proud of.
So, to recap: The 2021 season was a horrible one for Arrieta.
But that doesn’t diminish any of his past accomplishments.
He will always be remembered as a Cubs legend, and rightfully so.