What has happened to the “ace” of the Orioles’ staff? Once again, he showed glimmers of brilliance yet continued to struggle getting guys out. Luckily, for his sake, the bats came alive as the Os pulled out the narrow 9-8 victory, preventing Jake Arrieta from becoming the first pitcher in the majors to lose 10 games.
His season reminds me of a former Oriole pitcher that showed similar promise a few years ago, Daniel Cabrera. Both of these guys are hard throwers that can blow pitches right by hitters and tally high strikeout numbers. However, they both rely on their fastball too much and also have trouble finding the strikezone at times, hence why Cabrera is in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league organization. When Arrieta gets frustrated, like Cabrera, he’ll go to his fastball to throw strikes and he’ll either push the ball into the zone, throw it in the dirt, or toss one right down groove city where hitters can drive the ball.
I can’t recall how many times I’ve watched his starts and thought, does he have another pitch because he certainly isn’t Mariano Rivera? I like hard throwing pitchers, especially pitchers with dominant fastballs, but he needs an out pitch and he thinks his fastball is that. Watching games this year across the league have showed that adapting and changing pitching styles will lead hitters on and put them off-balance, i.e. R.A. Dickey. I’m not saying develop a knuckleball, just look to other pitches to get guys out.
As a former baseball player, I can say with confidence that hitters love seeing fastballs. While other guys are more adept at hitting breaking balls than others, generally hitters will sit on fastballs to drive into the field of play. When facing a pitcher that has only that pitch, the hitters have little work to do other than time him up.
The question remains, what is there to do with Jake Arrieta? At the beginning of the season, expectations were through the roof on this guy as he ended last year with such promise. Now, his future may entail the minors or he’ll be traded to another team if he doesn’t improve sooner or later.