Olivia Witherite: Three reasons the O’s should consider demoting Jake Arrieta

It seems like Jake Arrieta is doing everything that he can to make people forget that he was the Orioles’ opening day starter, who pitched a seven-inning gem on April 6. Although the Birds’ ace by title, the struggling right-hander is pitching himself out of the rotation, let alone the No. 1 spot.

Currently, Arrieta’s WAR (wins above replacement) is -0.2. For the team’s supposed ace, I can tell you one thing: That’s no good.

Although I was somewhat a proponent of letting Arrieta work out his problems in a rotation that is already struggling as of late, after yesterday’s performance in St. Petersburg, Fla., I now firmly believe that the Orioles need to send him down.

Tampa Bay not enough proof for you? Here are a few more reasons why it may make sense to send Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk.

1. Demoting him fits into the Birds’ schedule

If it seems like the Orioles have made an immense amount of roster moves this season, it’s because it’s true. However, moving Arrieta down to Norfolk would not cause the ripple effect of shuffling players around or designating them for assignment as the Orioles have needed to do often this season.

With an off-day both today and next Monday, the Orioles can afford to skip his turn in the rotation without necessarily calling up another starter to fill his role. If the organization is going to demote him, now is the time to do so, with two consecutive weeks of off-days.

After the second Monday off, the Orioles will play nine straight, six of which will be road interleague games, meaning the pitchers will also have to dedicate time to prepare to stand at the plate.

If the O’s want even the possibility of a quick fix, Arrieta should be sent down now to figure out his problems as quickly as possible, especially before the Birds go back on the road to New York and Atlanta.

2. His control issues

This one’s a given. As mentioned earlier, Arrieta started off the season with a no-run, seven inning game and an O’s win. However, he has started to slip, losing four of his last five and recording a 2-6 record to date.

In only 4 2/3 innings yesterday, he gave up four walks and threw a wild pitch. Beyond that, he did not back up third base in a play in the fourth inning and almost collided with Mark Reynolds on a play that was clearly the first baseman’s.

Yesterday’s play simply represented the rough patch that Arrieta is in. In the month of May, his ERA was 6.17 with just a single win.

The league leader in losses, Arrieta’s steadily climbing ERA, now at 5.53, is indicative of his slow decay through the first two-plus months.

3. Chris Tillman

Although O’s fans may only associate Tillman with floundering at the major league level, (he’s 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA for the Orioles from 2009-11,) the 24-year-old is having a solid year at Triple-A Norfolk. In 60 2/3 innings over 11 games, Tillman has recorded 58 Ks.

In his last start, he one-hit the Pawtucket Red Sox on May 31, recording nine strikeouts and touching 95 mph with his fastball.

Even though he is young, it may just be time for him to be tested again at the highest level, given Arrieta’s skid.

For now, I can imagine the Orioles demoting Arrieta and going with a shorthanded roster with the off-days. However, Tillman should stay by the phone, as he has the potential of being called up any day.

Buck Showalter said after the game that Arrieta will likely pitch his next scheduled start. However, there is also a good chance that sometime in the near future, when Arrieta takes the mound, it will be in Norfolk.

Olivia Witherite blogs about the Orioles at Birds Watcher, and her opinions appear here as part of MASN’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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