Change of scenery gets tossed around in sports quite a bit. The Chicago Cubs as of late have been the prime center for it. As for Jake Arrieta? It seems to have been just what he needed.
In 2102, Jake Arrieta was the Opening Day starter for thee Baltimore Orioles. That season, Arrieta had a 6.20 ERA in 24 appearances, 18 of them starts. When the Cubs acquired Arrieta, along with right-handed reliever Pedro Strop in the Scott Feldman trade last year, he had a 7.23 ERA in five starts.
This year, Arrieta has posted a 7-4 record, and a 2.53 ERA – in the process, becoming the staff ace following the departure of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija. But with the way he’s been pitching, their departure might not have been necessary for that title.
The talent was always there, but the mental edge just wasn’t quite there yet. Now it seems they’ve come together, and O’s manager Buck Showalter saw it coming.
“It’s no surprise,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Arrieta this week. “Wish him well. I like Jake. It was a good move for both of us.” h/t Jesse Rogers, ESPNChicago
This season, Arrieta has taken no-hitters and perfect games into late innings, but in Baltimore that wasn’t necessarily the case. In his time with the O’s, he struggled with his command, leading to a career-high five walks per nine innings. He also didn’t see eye-to-eye with pitching coach Rick Adair, which Arrieta admits created a rift and made it harder for him to perform.
“There were some things there that inhibited my ability to take that next step,” Arrieta said last year. “There were things going on there that kind of restricted me a little bit.”
After joining the club late this season after dealing with some shoulder stiffness in spring training, Arrieta hit the ground running. Now, he’s allowed less than three runs in 14 of his last 15 starts, one of those a victory over his former team.
He may not say it mattered, but deep down, it had to be good to show them what they’re missing.