Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched brilliantly over eight innings in the first game of Friday’s double-header at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies. The right-hander limited the Phillies to a lone run on six hits and two walks while striking out seven. Aaron Altherr accounted for the only run with a solo home run in the second inning.
With the performance, Arrieta won his major league-leading 19th game while sending his ERA below 2.00 to 1.99. He and Zack Greinke are the only two starters in baseball with an ERA below 2.00. He also carries a terrific 204/46 K/BB ratio in 199 innings.
Arrieta, 29, broke out with the Cubs last season. He was once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, but he struggled over parts of four seasons before the O’s sent him to the Cubs along with reliever Pedro Strop in exchange for starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger in a July 2013 trade. In 2014, Arrieta posted a 2.53 ERA over 25 starts. He’s shown, in dominating the National League this season, that last year’s performance wasn’t a fluke.
Rookie first baseman Pete Alonso has launched what appears to be the beginning of an auspicious career, made all the more notable by the 50 home runs he’s produced for the Mets so far this season. The All-Star slugger pushed his home run streak to four straight games on Friday, collecting no. 50 on an eighth-inning fastball from the Reds’ Sal Romano.
It’s just the latest of a long line of accomplishments for the 24-year-old infielder. Entering Friday’s series opener against Cincinnati, the first-time All-Star carried a .266/.366/.590 batting line with a league-leading 49 homers, 113 RBI, a .956 OPS and 4.9 fWAR through 648 plate appearances. Among those who are still rounding out their rookie seasons in 2019, he ranks first in home runs and fWAR by a long shot: the White Sox’ Eloy Jiménez is second in home runs with 28 dingers, while the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez plays second fiddle in fWAR with 3.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Even more remarkable: Alonso is the second rookie in MLB history to deliver at least 50 home runs in a single season. The first? Aaron Judge, who clubbed a jaw-dropping 52 homers for the Yankees in 2017.