There was once the thought that pitcher Jake Arrieta would be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the Orioles after the team drafted him in 2007. Maybe not the coveted “ace,” but certainly a solid number two.
Arrieta worked his way through the minors and posted a 1.85 ERA at Norfolk in 2010, which prompted Baltimore to call him up.
However, Arrieta struggled in the majors over the next few years and his ERA ballooned to 7.23 in 2013. That July, the Baltimore front office decided they had seen enough from the “failed” prospect and shipped him off to Chicago, along with pitcher Pedro Strop, for pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
It turned out to be a huge blessing for the former fifth-round pick, as he finished the season off with a 3.83 with the Cubs. He continued this solid run into 2014 and posted a 2.53 ERA with 167 strikeouts.
Now Arrieta has turned into one of top pitchers in the NL and will be seriously considered for the NL Cy Young Award after his no-hitter against the Dodgers. He’s now 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA and 190 strikeouts.
So, many Orioles’ fans are probably asking why couldn’t he do this in Baltimore? Why didn’t he turn into an ace for a team that’s been looking for one ever since Mike Mussina? The answer is that he would have never developed here and we, as fans, should be happy for him getting things turned around.
The Orioles have had serious problems developing pitchers over the last decade and Arrieta fell into that category. He had issues mixing up his pitches on the mound and couldn’t stop getting into jams. He would seem to be cruising right along, then his control would suddenly abandon him. The right-hander had lost all confidence by the end of his tenure in Baltimore and needed a change.
Baltimore gave him a fresh new start in Chicago and it’s an understatement to say it’s worked out for him. It may even be considered one of the most lopsided trades of the decade when all is said and done (alongside the Erik Bedard trade).
Instead of being upset that Arrieta couldn’t be a star in Baltimore, be happy for the way he revived his career. It’s not an easy task to turn from a huge bust into a Cy Young candidate. He worked his way back and his no-hitter is just one of the many benefits he’s gained from it.
The Orioles’ front office may kick itself, but a change was needed for a both sides and it’s safe to say no one would have thought this would have been Arrieta’s outcome.
So congrats to Jake and hopefully the Orioles can develop an ace just like him sooner rather than later.