Cubs vs. Reds: RHP Jake Arrieta vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod


Chicago Cubs (59-73) vs. Cincinnati Reds (64-69)

RHP Jake Arrieta (7-4, 2.53 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .207 OAV) vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod (2-2, 2.98 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) at Triple-A Louisville

Thursday, August 28, 2014: 12:35 p.m. at Great American Ball Park

Jake Arrieta has been exactly the pitcher the Baltimore Orioles believed he was going to be—unfortunately, he now plays for the Chicago Cubs. After attempting to coax the beast out of Arrieta up with the Major League club for the last three and a half years, the Orioles finally dealt him to the north side of Chicago. Now, the Cubs are reaping the benefits of a pitcher who looks destined for All-Star Game appearances.

What has Arrieta done right? Everything, really. In 124.2 innings pitched (his career-high), he has allowed a career-low in home runs, giving up only five. In 2011 and 2012, he yielded 21 and 16, respectively. In this same time span, he is punching out more than a batter per inning with 127 strikeouts.

Back on June 24, the Reds were caught in the Arrieta rapture. Thirteen of his last 14 starts have been of the quality variety, with the only outlier coming at Coors Field. In the seven innings he would pitch, he would give up just three hits and two runs while striking out nine.

He has had to be this dominant, as over his last seven starts, the Cubs have scored four runs in support only once. Pitching much better than his 7-4 record reveals, Arrieta has been on quite the roll in 2014.

Here is the lineup he will face via the team’s Twitter account:

CF – Billy Hamilton (1-for-3, 1 K)

1B – Todd Frazier (0-for-3, 2 K’s)

2B – Brandon Phillips (yet to face Arrieta)

C – Devin Mesoraco (1-for-3, 1 RBI)

RF – Jay Bruce (1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K’s)

3B – Kristopher Negron (yet to face Arrieta)

LF – Skip Schumaker (1-for-3, 1 BB, 1 K)

SS – Zack Cozart (0-for-2, 1 K)

P – Dylan Axelrod (yet to face Arrieta)

If it were not for the faulty water main break outside of Coors Field two weeks ago, Dylan Axelrod would surely be making more than his second start with the Reds.

His first start for a club that badly needed a quality start came in the toughest of environments in Denver. Even with a depleted Rockies lineup standing in the box, the elements the ballparks produces are dangerous enough. Yet, Axelrod went for six innings of just two run ball, while striking out seven.

With the news that Homer Bailey has not been progressing as well as the Reds hoped, it is almost all but certain that if Axelrod pitches well, he will get an extended look down the stretch in September. While Daniel Corcino and other young pitchers present intriguing options, Axelrod has been at the Major League level before and has the experience the Reds may be looking for.

Here is the lineup he will face via the team’s Twitter account:

LF – Chris Coghlan (1-for-3, 1 K)

2B – Javier Baez (yet to face Axelrod)

SS – Starlin Castro (yet to face Axelrod)

3B – Luis Valbuena (0-for-2, 1 K)

RF – Jorge Soler (yet to face Axelrod)

CF – Arismendy Alcantara (yet to face Axelrod)

1B – Chris Valaika (yet to face Axelrod)

C – John Baker (yet to face Axelrod)

P – Jake Arrieta (yet to face Axelrod)

Dangling closer to the cellar in the National League Central than to a playoff spot, the Reds are primarily concerned with staving off the pesky Cubbies. Thursday afternoon will be the final time the two clubs will meet at Great American Ball Park in 2014, and may be the last time the Cubs are in a vulnerable position.

The Redlegs look to combat the stingy Arrieta as the afternoon matinee gets underway at 12:35 p.m.