Wednesday windup: Ode to Arrieta, in Bucs’ sights
You’re going to be hearing a lot about Jake Arrieta in the next couple of weeks.
He’ll face the Pirates on Sunday, in the finale of the weekend series in Wrigley Field. He also looms in the Bucs’ Wild Card way to the rest of the postseason.
So we need to set the record straight about his remarkable season, which reached the 20-win stage last night.
Noting Arrieta’s 0.86 ERA in 13 starts since the All-Star break, Cubs manager Joe Maddon called his pitcher’s work “Gibson-esque.” Maddon of course was recalling Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA season in 1968.
Ah, but it’s so much better than that.
Gibson was at the lead of a pitchers’ posse that provoked MLB to giver hitters a fairer shot by lowering the mound, a whopping 50% from a height of 15 inches to the still in-use 10 inches.
Think about it … not only is Arrieta putting up numbers not seen since the ‘60s, but he’s doing so with what was meant as a disadvantage for pitchers. …
That lowering of the mound also dramatically altered what scouts look for in pitchers. Height became a major asset. Makes sense: If pitchers are throwing from lower mounds, we’ll get higher pitchers.
This might amaze you (mainly because no one before has really looked at it), but do you know how many pitchers 6-foot-6 or taller were among the 324 used by the 20 Major League teams in 1968? Six. Yes – 6, and the Bucs’ 6-foot-6 lefty Bob Veale was one of them.
Pitchers 6-foot-6 or taller in action during this season?
More teams (32), way more total pitchers (876!). Still, the percentage of tall pitchers has tripled, from 2% to 6%.
And, no, 6-foot-4 Jake Arrieta is not one of them.