The Chicago Cubs saluted Jake Arrieta last June when the former National League Cy Young Award winner returned to Wrigley Field with the Phillies.
“They did a little pregame tribute that was really cool,” Arrieta said. “They did a great job.”
What Arrieta did not do last season at Wrigley Field was pitch against his former team. He did not face them when the Cubs came to Philadelphia later in the year either. Monday, however, he will go against the Cubs for the first time in his 10-year career and he’s looking forward to pitching in the place that holds such special memories for him.
“There is definitely an excitement about it,” Arrieta said. “This is the last of the 30 teams that I haven’t faced, so that’s cool. Check that box off. Going back to Chicago is going to be great. It’s an awesome city and there’s a little bit of a different feel to this start simply because I played there for 4 1/2 years. I’m familiar with the city, the team and the fans and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Yes, and he also won a Cy Young Award there in 2015 before being part of the first Cubs team since 1908 to win a World Series, in 2016. Ask him about the experience and his mind happily goes there.
“It was a great ride and it will be part of me forever,” Arrieta said. “Just kind of knowing the history there and how long it had been since the Cubs had been in the World Series and ultimately won the World Series and doing it in the fashion we did, it was all kind of remarkable. We were down 3-1 and we had to win Game 5 at home and then go play Game 6 and 7 at Cleveland. The odds were stacked against us. It was a tough situation to be in, but we had the guys to get the job done."
The four-game series at Wrigley Field will be a major test for Arrieta and the Phillies.
After quality starts (six innings or more and three earned runs or fewer) in each of his first five outings, Arrieta has a 6.14 ERA in his last four starts. The Cubs, who lead the National League in runs per game and home runs per game, are 15-6 at home. They were also 17-7 since a 9-10 start going into their Sunday night game at Washington. The Phillies’ four games against Chicago will be followed by three in Milwaukee against the Brewers, who won three of four games at Citizens Bank Park last week. The Brewers are 16-8 at home.