It's not a comfortable question to pose, but it's a fair one.
I hate to speculate about a player's future, though it's a common practice in the media, but Jake Arrieta is a serious candidate to be optioned tomorrow when Tommy Hunter is recalled and makes the start against Philadelphia.
Arrieta turned in his second-shortest outing of the season, allowing a season-high nine runs and 11 hits in four innings. He walked none, struck out five, gave up two home runs and hit a batter. Manager Buck Showalter removed him after 83 pitches, including 53 strikes.
No Orioles starter had allowed that many runs in a game since Jason Berken surrendered nine against Oakland on June 6, 2009.
In his last four starts, Arrieta has permitted 24 runs (23 earned) and 27 hits in 18 2/3 innings. He can't seem to pitch from the stretch. A loss tonight will make him 2-8 with a 6.32 ERA.
Not the kind of production you want or expect from your opening day starter.
Dana Eveland is eliminated from rotation consideration tomorrow because he's pitching tonight. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was told before the game that Hunter or Eveland would get the start.
It's got to be Hunter, and the Orioles have to make room for him on the 25-man roster.
The other move would be to option Miguel Gonzalez, but he's becoming valuable in long relief. And while the Orioles would like to give him consistent starts at Norfolk, it's more important for them to get Arrieta straightened out.
It might have to happen in the minors.
Update: J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer off Phillies reliever Michael Schwimer in the seventh to reduce the deficit to 9-6.
Hardy has 11 homers this season.
Eveland gave the Orioles three perfect innings in relief, striking out four.
Matt Wieters committed his seventh error of the season on a bad pickoff throw to first base. He totaled five errors in each of his first three seasons.
Update II: The Orioles fell to the Phillies tonight, 9-6, for their 12th loss in the last 17 games.
If Tampa Bay holds its lead, the Orioles will tumble into third place for the third time this season. They also were in third on April 11 and 22.
The bullpen allowed one hit, walked none and struck out six in five innings.