Ex-Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta seems poised to win NL Cy Young Award

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (49) pitches in the first inning of the National League wild-card game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The Cy Young Award winners from both leagues will be announced Wednesday night, and former Oriole Jake Arrieta might be the favorite to win in the National League.

The Chicago Cubs right-hander had eye-popping numbers this past season, going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 229 innings over 33 starts.


But what might give him the edge over Los Angeles Dodgers' right-hander Zack Greinke (19-3, 1.66 ERA in 222 2/3 innings over 32 starts) is the way Arrieta ended the season.

He won 16 of his final 17 decisions. But, more impressive, he had the lowest post-All Star Break ERA in baseball history at 0.75. He allowed nine earned runs in 107 1/3 innings during that 15-start span. Just tremendous.


I would think that remarkable stint should give Arrieta the award. That outcome would be well-received.

Arrieta never performed in Baltimore the way he knew he was capable. At least consistently, anyway. And whether that was about a lack of in-game confidence, listening to too many pieces of advice, a lack of support from his coaches, the temporary shelving of his cut-fastball or a mixture of all of the above, the point is that Arrieta righted the ship himself and deserves credit for turning his career around.

No one ever questioned the man's work ethic, competitiveness or desire to win. He needed a change of scenery, clearly, and thrived once he received it. The long-anticipated success couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy.

Did the Orioles make a major mistake by trading him and Pedro Strop for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman, who lasted a couple of months and left as a free agent at the end of 2013? In retrospect, yes. But Feldman was viewed as someone who could help the team immediately and Arrieta was in the minors in July 2013 after posting a career 5.46 ERA in 69 big league games.

Every time I write about Arrieta, readers make two points: 1. The Orioles have done a terrible job developing starting pitchers. 2. The Orioles always give up on players who ultimately thrive elsewhere.

Although there are some exceptions, it's hard to argue with the first point. The Orioles haven't had a homegrown All Star starting pitcher since Mike Mussina (Chris Tillman was basically homegrown, but began his pro career with Seattle).

But I wholly disagree with the second argument. For every Jake Arrieta, there are a hundred Matt Rileys that the Orioles gave up on and, for various reasons, those players never rose from the ashes. The simple truth is that the Orioles haven't developed many All-Stars at any position for themselves or other clubs in the past two decades. That speaks to point No. 1, not No. 2.

One other thing on this: One ticked-off reader asked me when was the last time a team drafted a pitcher, traded him to another organization and watched that pitcher win the Cy Young Award for the team that acquired him. You have to go all the way back to 2014 for that answer.


The San Diego Padres drafted Corey Kluber in 2007, traded him to the Cleveland Indians in 2010 – essentially for outfielder Ryan Ludwick – and the right-hander won last year's American League Cy Young Award.

So it happens. To plenty of teams. To quote the esteemed Annie Savoy from Bull Durham, "Bad trades are part of baseball. Now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas?"

Showalter connection

The Managers of the Year were announced Tuesday and they each have a Buck Showalter connection.

Jeff Banister became the first Texas Rangers manager to win the award since Showalter did so  in 2004. It seems strange, but Ron Washington took two Rangers squads to the World Series and did not win. But, remember, the voting is done before the postseason occurs.

In the National League, the Chicago Cubs' Joe Maddon was the winner, the third time he has picked up that hardware and first time in the NL (he won it twice with the Tampa Bay Rays). He is the seventh manager to win the award at least three times. That group includes Showalter (1994 Yankees, 2004 Rangers and 2014 Orioles).


Maddon has accomplished something Showalter never did, however. He has won it in both leagues. Despite building the Arizona Diamondbacks from scratch, Showalter did not win in the NL (he finished fourth in 1999).

On Ortiz's retirement reported Tuesday that 2016 will be the last season for Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

It's probably time for the 40-year-old to hang it up. He's no longer the most hated opposing player at Camden Yards these days (Toronto's Jose Bautista has surpassed him, I'd imagine).

Ortiz has had his moments against the Orioles: His sumo wrestling encounter with another behemoth, Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg in 2011 and his destruction of the dugout phone at Camden Yards in 2013.

Big Papi did plenty of other damage with his bat at Camden Yards, though. In 112 games, spanning 502 plate appearances, Ortiz hit .256 with a .361 on-base percentage and .492 slugging average there. He has hit 25 home runs and driven in 76 runs in Baltimore in his career. The only player to have more homers and RBIs in Camden Yards without playing for the Orioles is Alex Rodriguez (33 homers and 106 RBIs).


A couple of Orioles might be sad to see Ortiz hang it up, led by lefty Brian Matusz. Ortiz has 30 plate appearances against Matusz and has four hits and no homers (a .138 average). Matusz has struck out Ortiz 13 times and walked him once.

Chris Tillman (.182 average), Ubaldo Jimenez (.095) and Miguel Gonzalez (.200) also have had success against Ortiz, who has victimized Kevin Gausman (6-for-13 with two homers and two walks).

No extra hardware for Machado

Manny Machado didn't win his second Platinum Glove Award, which is given to the best Gold Glove defender in each league.

He won it in 2013, but this year Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier picked up the AL award.

St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina won it in the National League.


The announcement was made Tuesday.