When the Orioles traded Jake Arrieta to the Chicago Cubs in July 2013, he was toiling in Triple-A, still struggling to fulfill tremendous expectations placed on him by both the club and himself since being anointed one of the promising homegrown arms destined to bring the team back to respectability.
He was never able to tap that potential with the Orioles -- and why he couldn’t is still up for debate -- but on Wednesday night, the 29-year-old Arrieta received the title of Cy Young winner.
Following a tremendous 2015 season in which he emerged as not only the Cubs ace but one of the best pitchers in the game, Arrieta was awarded this year’s National League Cy Young Award, edging out Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke.
The award, which is decided by a vote of eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, was announced Wednesday night on MLB Network.
“[I’m] a little relieved honestly, I think, to finally know how it played out,” Arrieta said on the broadcast. “All the hard work’s been worth it. … This award, it’s been a lot of hard work, a long time coming, a lot of adjusting, trying to figure this game out and still learn. … This game is very difficult, and to do it at a high level is even harder.”
Arrieta received 17 first-place votes, besting Greinke’s 10 and Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw’s three.
He also received 11 second-place votes and two third-place votes, totaling 169 points, betters than Greinke’s 147 and Kershaw’s 101. Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole placed fourth (40 points) and Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer placed fifth (32 points).
Arrieta, who went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 229 innings over 33 starts in 2015, was bolstered by an historic second half of the season.
He won 16 of his final 17 decisions and had the best post-All-Star break ERA in baseball history (0.75), yielding just nine earned runs in 107 1/3 innings during that 15-start span.
Arrieta led the majors in wins (22) and tied for the major league lead in complete games (four) and shutouts (three). He also allowed the fewest hits per nine innings (5.9) and home runs per nine innings (0.4) in the NL.
He also threw his first career no-hitter on Aug. 30 at Wrigley Field against the Dodgers, allowing just two base runners and striking out 12.
Arrieta was dealt to the Cubs on July 2, 2013 with reliever Pedro Strop in exchange for right-hander Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
Feldman, the anchor of that trade, provided the Orioles with a much-needed veteran starter to push for the playoffs, a drive that ended 6½ games out of the second American League wild-card spot. The Orioles couldn’t re-sign Feldman that offseason, and he inked a three-year, $30 million deal with the Houston Astros.