The Chicago Cubs keep finding pitching in the darnedest places. The key is unloading it before their secrets are revealed.
Some call them change-of-scenery guys. Others, failed prospects. But the Cubs load up on them and hopefully they work out. Some do, others don't.
The key is taking them on in low-risk situations, like Jake Arrieta.
When the Cubs unloaded Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics, it looked like they had traded all of their pitching. On nights like Tuesday, Arrieta has proved that theory wrong.
He threw his first career complete game, a one-hit win over the Cincinnati Reds in which he had 13 strikeouts.
''It was nice to finally shake the catcher's hand at the end of the game,'' Arrieta told AP after the game. ''That's something I've wanted to do my entire career.''
What's the formula?
There's a reason these pitchers were prospects, guys like Arrieta and Hammel. There's also a reason they failed. The Cubs just hope they get over it.
They did the same with Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard from the Red Sox and even Edwin Jackson before that. Jacob Turner and Dan Straily are also in the pipeline with big hopes.
The problem with Jackson was that they paid him like he was a star rather than the castoff he really was.
What changed for Arrieta?
Arrieta was sent off by the Baltimore Orioles because he was wild and then were looking for immediate help last season in the form of Scott Feldman.
Before reaching the Cubs, Arrieta never had a major league ERA of less than 4.66. In 23 innings in Baltimore last season, his ERA was more than 7.00.
This year, for the first time, he has found his command. And, on nights like Tuesday, he has proved unhittable.
At age 28, he has a 9-5 record on a bad team with a 2.65 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings and a low home run rate. On Tuesday, he had as many hits at the plate as he gave up, one.
He's throwing the ball hard, he's throwing it where he wants to and opponents are left confused at who this guy is.
He finished five outs short of a no-hitter. In late June, he took a perfect game into the seventh inning against this same Reds team. The outing after that, he brought a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Red Sox.
''As a baseball fan, this is one of the things when you come to the ballpark, you might get a chance to see something special,'' Cubs manager Rick Renteria said afterward. ''I thought that outing was pretty special.''
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