Jake Arrieta has pitched exceptionally well since the July 5 trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
But for the Cubs to take a significant step toward contending, they will need continued progress from Arrieta as well as at least one free-agent signing that could include marquee left-hander Jon Lester.
Arrieta took a major step Tuesday night in furthering his ace aspirations, tossing a one-hit shutout while striking out a career-high 13 in a 7-0 victory over the Reds at Wrigley Field. It was Arrieta's first-career complete game and shutout.
Brandon Phillips broke up the no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning, lining a double to the warning track in left-center field past a diving Matt Szczur.
The only other base-runner was Billy Hamilton, who walked to start the fourth but was caught stealing.
Arrieta, who threw 7 2/3 no-hit innings against the Red Sox on June 30, had achieved his career high of 140 2/3 innings entering Tuesday's game despite missing all of April because of right shoulder tightness. But the Cubs hope to revert to a seven-man bullpen in 2015, meaning they can't afford to have a rotation that can't be relied upon to pitch deep into games.