Jake Arrieta irked at outside speculation over heater, beats Crew

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MILWAUKEE – If Jake Arrieta was chapped about propeller-headed speculation over his early season velocity, it was the Milwaukee Brewers who paid the price on Sunday.

“Everybody wants to talk about this, and the Fangraphs articles – I don’t care about that,” said Arrieta after striking out 10 in seven innings to beat the Brewers 7-4 at Miller Park during a second start in which he admittedly lacked 2-3 mph off his typical fastball.

“I know that kind of stuff can come and go from time to time,” he said. “I had periods last year where I was at the same spot I am right now. I had one in June near the All-Star break. I still have good feel for everything. The movement is really good. The command’s good. So when the 95-to-97 comes back, it’s going to be tough for teams. And it still is.”

That’s the thing. Arrieta admits the “explosiveness” isn’t there. “Some guys would call it like a dead arm,” he said. “But I feel good. That’s all I’m worried about.”

He talked even before the season started about trying to become more efficient, trying to get outs on two pitches or less, commanding more pitches more often.

And in two starts he has allowed three earned runs in 13 innings – all three scoring on a mistake cutter that Ryan Braun hit over the fence in Sunday’s third – while striking out 16 and walking four. He won both starts.

“He was really on top of his game,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And I love the delivery. I love the command. That’s the thing. He didn’t hit 95 or 96 or whatever, but he knew where the fastball was going.

“I just think he’s not feeling his velocity yet, but I think as he stays in this delivery and the velocity shows up – even if it doesn’t, man, I’ll that that any day of the week over shotgun 94, 95.”

As the top projected free agent on next winter’s market, Arrieta, 31, figures to be under heightened scrutiny throughout the season – which seems fine with him as long as the analysts don’t forget to break it down again when the fastball is back to usual levels.

“Where I’m at now in my career I don’t worry about it because I know I’m smart enough to work around that, and the velocity’s still good enough to get it by guys and to do certain things in certain situations with it,” said Arrieta, who can manipulate his curve ball at speeds ranging 7 mph apart and his cut fastball 6 mph apart. “I have a really good feel for everything.”


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