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Hop on the Bandwagon: Five Things to Know About Jake Arrieta

If you’re just tuning in to this Cubs season, here’s a primer on baseball’s newest star.

Jake Arrieta pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field in September   Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

For the three or so people who haven’t yet heard about last night’s Cubs game, pitcher Jake Arrieta stomped over the Pittsburgh Pirates, pitching a 4-0 game and advancing the team to the National League Division Series. Arrieta, you may remember, is also the pitcher who threw the first no-hitter for the Cubs since 2008 (and only the 14th in team history).

Arrieta, 29, joined the Cubs in 2013 after spending three seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. In that time, he’s moved up the pitching ranks and has become the surprising star of the season. Here are some things that new fans may not know about him.

He’s basically mastered the slider.

How did Arrieta go from a 5.46 ERA to a 2.48 in only a few seasons? USA Today’s For the Win blog helpfully illustrates how the pitching ace has developed a “slider-cutter” hybrid while at the Cubs that trips up a lot of batters. He’ll use the exact same grip every time, but he changes the pressure and velocity to confuse whoever is at the plate.

Video: Reddit user Stonewall

His fans are more fanatical than your typical Cubs fan.

People are cheering him on at the stadium or social media. One fan rewrote Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” as an ode to the pitcher. But the best example may be this super fan, who shaved his hair into Arrieta’s face.

In the off season, you’ll find him hiking.

The Texas native has an off-season home in Austin, where he frequently hits the trails with his children, son Cooper and daughter Palmer. Last December, when Cooper was three and Palmer 11 months, Arrieta tweeted a photo of himself carrying both kids with him on a walk.

According to MLB News, the news division of Major League Baseball, he goes out “almost every day,” with walks lasting up to 15 miles. 

He’s not afraid to engage his opponents—even on Twitter.

Pirate fans came up with chants to shout at Arrieta during the wild card game, and the team asked fans to wear all black in the hopes of messing with the pitcher. Arietta had something to say about that.

He has a strong pajama game.

Coach Joe Maddon had some fun with the team when he asked all the players to wear their pajamas at Dodger Stadium on August 30 before the team’s overnight flight back to Chicago. Because of that no-hitter, Arrieta had to appear at the post-game press conference, leading to this instantly meme’d image:

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