The Cubtober Diary: Will lessons from 2015 and the shadows help Jake Arrieta?

LOS ANGELES  - The dominance had to end at sometime. It just wasn't the best for him or his Cubs team.

From late July on in 2015 Jake Arrieta enjoyed arguably the best pitching stretch in the history of the franchise. From his last start on July 30th through his Wild Card game victory over the Pirates, the eventual Cy Young winner allowed just six earned runs and won 12-straight games.

But the playoffs were a much different story. While he got away with allowing four runs against the Cardinals in a Game 3 win in the NLDS against the Cardinals, that would not be the case for a chilly night in New York.

The Mets once again got four off the starter but the offense couldn't recover as Arrieta took his first loss since July 30th.

"I was also more so than I think being drained physically, I think the mental side of it," said Arrieta of the 2015 NLCS. "You're drained in that aspect as well, just from last year, the Wild Card game and, you know, getting past the Cardinals in the Division Series, I think that weighs on you a lot mentally as well."

Arrieta is back in the same round a year later, this time taking the mound for Game 3 against the Dodgers Wednesday night. For a year the diligent pitcher has worked on his physical and mental game to reach his peak at this time of the year.

It paid off in Game 3 against the Giants when he allowed just two runs and struck out six at AT&T Park. Don't think the memories of 2015 didn't aid Arrieta in that performance.

"The emotions that are involved in games like this at times can be hard to deal with. But when you've been in these situations before, it makes it a lot easier," said Arreita. "Just to kind of take that deep breath, focus on your execution and go from there and not really allow the outside crowd noise or whatever's going on within the atmosphere to kind of get the best of you, you know."

California certainly hasn't for Arrieta - no matter what part of the coast he pitches. This season he is 3-0 when pitching in the state and that didn't include a visit to Dodger Stadium this season.

The last time he pitched in Chavez Ravine was last August. That night he tossed his first no-hitter - the crowning jewel of his Cy Young season.

"But, you know, I'll use some of the experience from my last time out here moving into tomorrow. But at the same time, it's completely different game," said Arrieta when asked about that no-hitter. "Obviously, with being in the postseason. It's going to be a little different feel."

A bit of a different look from other parks, too. With the 5 PM Pacific Time start the shadows will play a factor as they creep from the infield to the outfield. The issue was brought up to a number of players including Arrieta on Monday, but the pitcher is not complaining.

"I really think it can be difficult to pick up spin, especially, you know, once the shadows kind of creep in between the mound and home plate," said Arrieta of the shadows. "So really from a pitching perspective, you want to be aggressive early because of the fact that it is a little bit more difficult to pick up some rotations and spin on pitches when the shadow's kind of in between, and as it starts to creep out to the mound.

"So I think really it's an advantage for the pitchers early on in the game."