You’ve seen it before. Way too many times before.
Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta has an outing in which he looks great in spurts and terrible in spurts.
It happened again Sunday in a 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He had three perfect innings. The other two were disasters. And he ended up coughing up the lead in the fifth.
Arrieta shouldered the blame. And that’s not a problem. Arrieta’s not afraid to point the finger at himself.
He’s also not afraid to work hard, to try and turn things around. In fact, Arrieta is what you want in a pitcher: Great stuff, great work ethic, coachable, analytical.
There’s just this one problem: He can’t maintain consistency, and as soon as it looks like he’s rolling, he hiccups a walk or a hit batter or another walk and suddenly his pitch count – and often the opponent’s score – is up.
He’s 27 now. The prospect days are over. He’s in fish-or-cut-bait status. He seemingly can’t learn much from Triple-A, where he usually dominates when he gets things together. Eventually, he overmatches the flailing bats in Triple-A.
The easy thing to say is trade him. There are 29 teams that would take a chance on an arm with a 95-mph moving fastball, a hammer curve and biting slider. But you wouldn’t get much in return. And there’s the sinking feeling that Arrieta figures it out somewhere else. And if he does figure it out, he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter.
There’s also the idea of moving him to the bullpen, the way the club has done with Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter. It’s not ideal, but it would give him another chance to contribute.
It would be a surprise if Arrieta, who has minor league options remaining, doesn’t get sent to Triple-A Norfolk because the club could use another relief arm right now.
But what do you do beyond that with Arrieta?
It’s so hard to find someone with that level of talent. But there’s also the legitimate concern as to whether he can make it work in the majors.
Daily Think Special: What would you do with Jake Arrieta?