Jake Arrieta Talks Process, Confidence, Embracing the Target

Much has been written about Jake Arrieta’s superb 2015 season and the fitness regimen that helped him to produce historic results on the mound. But what’s often been overlooked in the conversation has been the Cy Young winner’s mental approach. You could see it in his unflappable performances in LA during his no-hitter and in Pittsburgh when he shut down the Pirates in the NL Wild Card game.

That confidence was on full display in the days leading up to that do-or-die game, as Arrieta responded to a Pirate Parrot parody account’s claim that the #crowdIsGoingToEatYoualive.

The fans in Pittsburgh took this as a cocky affront, but I just saw a guy who was letting the world know that his mind would be too focused on the task at hand to let a Bucco blackout impact his performance. This wasn’t Arrieta guaranteeing a win, just trying to save Pirates fans from putting all kinds of extra effort into signs and chants and such. Seriously, they had a printed-out strategy telling them how to attack the Cubs and their ace psychologically. In case you missed it, the plans didn’t work so well, as Arrieta was cool as the other side of the pillow in pitching a complete-game shutout.

You think Sean Rodriguez coulda used some of that calm?


Seeing that never gets old for me. Whether he was mad about losing or just the fact that he’s got a Camaro mullet, Rodriguez really needs one of those “In Blue Out Red” shirts the Cubs are wearing around camp these days. Not a shot at the Cards as some had first thought, the mantra came from mental skills director Darnell McDonald and is more about the emotional colors of chaos and calm. To wit, the front of the shirts features a bear Om-ing away in the Lotus position.

Arrieta was actually rocking that very shirt when he spoke with MLB Network’s Dan Plesac about how everything came together for him down the stretch last season.

“[Continuing the routine] was really the focus,” Arrieta explained to the former Cubs pitcher. “Not try and to pitch to numbers but try and, you know, trust the process and go at it each time I was out there.

“I think once it all started to click mentally, the physical aspect was always there, but now I’m able to kinda put ’em hand in hand and it’s paying big dividends for me.”

I would love to have some investments that produced those same kind of dividends. Perhaps then I could dock my yacht next to one of John Arguello’s. Then again, we can’t all just sit back on the endless riches of our blogging empire. Some of us still have to work, a concept not lost on the Cubs ace.

“It’s confidence, not only just when you’re out there, but in the preparation. That’s the easiest day of the week for me, is the day I actually get to go out and pitch.”

You hear that kids? How ’bout you, Commissioner Manfred? Arrieta busts his butt on off days so that taking the bump is a walk in the park. Having faith in both his preparation and his stuff has no doubt helped him to carry that confidence with him each time out. Of course, the kind of results he and the Cubs displayed last season come with more than a few expectations.

“Rather than look at pressure as negatives, try and look at the positive side of it. We have an opportunity to do something extremely special this year, so we should, you know, take advantage of it.”

Given Arrieta’s mixture of serenity and competitive drive, maybe we should consider tweaking the team’s slogan just a bit: Om-brace the Target.

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