The Sudden, Historic Dominance of Jake Arrieta

Zero. Point. Three. Seven.

Arrieta goes into today’s start against the St. Louis Cardinals with numbers that are nearly inhuman. But two years ago, when the organization that drafted Arrieta gave up on him, those stats would’ve seemed absolutely impossible.

jake 2The Orioles picked Arrieta in the fifth round of the 2007 draft, then watched him flourish early in his minor league career. Between his 2008 and 2009 seasons, spread across the Class A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels, Arrieta tossed 263.2 innings, punched out 268 batters, and allowed just 222 hits. Baseball Prospectus named him the 52nd-best prospect in the game before that 2009 season and no. 70 the following year. When Arrieta started the next season with a 1.85 ERA in 73 innings at Triple-A Norfolk, the O’s called him up to the big leagues.

That moment marked the peak of his Orioles career. In 358 innings spanning 2010 to 2013, Arrieta delivered a hideous 5.46 ERA. His command — 159 walks, or more than four per nine innings — was atrocious. He gunned his fastball into the high 90s and owned a heartbreaking curveball that at times would look like one of the game’s best, but he still couldn’t get anyone out at the major league level. On July 2, 2013, the O’s dumped Arrieta on the Cubs (throwing in hard-throwing reliever Pedro Strop and cash to boot) in exchange for journeyman right-hander Scott Feldman and seldom-used catcher Steve Clevenger.

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