The expectation is that some time Saturday it’ll become official that Opening Day starter Jake Arrieta has been sent to Triple-A Norfolk.
The numbers show why. He is 2-8 with a 6.32 ERA. He leads the majors in losses. He’s dropped his last six decisions in a span of seven starts. He is 1-5 with a 7.85 ERA in seven home starts. He allowed career highs in hits (11) and runs (9) in Friday’s 9-6 loss, and he pitched just four innings.
After the game, Arrieta admitted to reporters that he is lost, and is more frustrated than he has ever been.
So if there ever were a candidate for a demotion to the minors, to a less-pressured situation where he can figure things out, it’s Jake Arrieta.
This isn’t a problem with his ability. The guy can throw his fastball in the mid-90s. His breaking pitches are often above average. Command certainly has something to do with it – he made continual mistakes up in the strike zone on Friday.
But you have to believe it’s more of a mental thing with Arrieta. He’s an extremely confident person, but when things go south, anyone’s confidence would be shaken.
“That's human nature. There's an ebb and flow to all states of where you are mentally. That's part of it,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “But it's also part of making that step into being a consistent guy who your team can count on every fifth day. It's hard to do. That's why guys who can do that are in such high demand.”
It’s exceptionally confounding when the guy gets blasted for six runs in one inning and then strikes out the side in the next like Arrieta did on Friday.
So this is going to be an important time for Arrieta. He’s only 26. His career is ahead of him. Yet he’s also at an age where he needs to start showing that consistency, as Showalter said.
Arrieta will have to go down to Norfolk and figure it out.
He is one of the most competitive and hardest working guys in the organization. So the odds are he will rebound.
But it’s not going to be easy. If he does figure it out, though, he’ll be that much better of a pitcher in the future.