If it’s possible, right-hander Jake Arrieta has kicked up his performance recently to an even higher level and continues to show that he looks ready to join the Major Leagues whenever the Orioles make the call.
Arrieta, the O’s fifth-round pick in 2007, is 6-2, 1.77 in 11 starts on the year. Over 71 innings, he has allowed just 45 hits.
But over his last three starts, Arrieta is 3-0, 0.82. Over his last 22 innings, he has given up 16 hits and two earned runs with six walks and 23 strikeouts.
It sure seems he is ready to make his big league debut, but that call just hasn’t come his way yet.
“It’s pretty clichÃƒÂ© to say you try not to think about it and do your job here, but that’s been the case. Obviously I’d like to be there now. I feel like I’m 100 percent ready.
“There are things I can still get better at, but I can bring a lot to that team. Everyone knows I’m a competitor. Each and every day that goes by I want to get there more and more and I think it shows by the way I’ve been pitching,” the 24-year-old Arrieta said.
“I’m hungry to get there and want to help those guys out. Whatever they need me to do to help that team in any way, I’m willing and ready to do so.
“A day doesn’t go by where I wish I was there. I want it that bad. But I know it’s a business and certain things have to happen for me to get there. But it will and I’ll remain patient and continue to do my job here.
“One way to help out the big club is continue to pitch well here and let them know I’m ready. It’s tough, but I have to stay patient.”
Arrieta’s first 11 Triple-A starts:
2009: 3-5, 4.92.....287 average against
2010: 6-2, 1.77....183 average against
“I’ve really put a lot of emphasis on fastball command and getting ahead of guys. Once you get ahead you can throw your off-speed for strikes. When I’ve needed to put guys away, I’ve been able to do that. I’ve been able to get out of jams and also pitch deep in games to help our team.”
More numbers on Arrieta:
April: 2-1, 1.16 in five starts
May: 4-1, 2.25 in six starts
Home: 4-0, 0.97 in six starts
He leads the International League in ERA, innings and opponents batting average. He is tied for second in wins and tied for fourth in strikeouts.
But he does also lead the league with 34 walks in 71 innings.
“For me, the walks is not a huge issue. It’s an easy fix, just attacking guys early in the count and I’m very capable of doing so.
“The past couple of outings, at least one of the walks was in a situation where there are guys on second and third with one out and I don’t want a guy to beat me. I throw him my pitches and don’t give him anything to hit.
“For example, (Monday) night, Jacque Jones came up with one out and a runner on third. He’s a big league hitter and I didn’t want to make a mistake. I pitched around him and struck the next two guys out.”
Arrieta has allowed 2 ER or less in nine of his 11 Norfolk starts. On May 15th his ERA was 2.20 - and that’s the highest it has been at any point this year.
His pitches and velocity have been there all year.
“I’m pretty sure I’m in the mid 90’s. They have a gun on the outfield here (in Rochester) and I saw a lot of 95’s and 96’s. I’ve been in the low to mid 90’s pretty consistently. If I need it I can reach back for a little more.
“I feel like my changeup a lot of times has been a plus pitch this year. It’s not only been a pitch I show to lefties to try and get grounballs. I’ve gotten a lot of strikeouts on it. I’ve had a real good feel for it and I can’t remember more than four or five changeups all year that I’ve thrown above the belt. It’s been a putaway pitch along with my slider.
“I’ve had good command of my slider too. It’s kind of been that way with all my pitches. I’ve been able to throw them even behind in counts. When I need to put a guy away, I can bury a slider or curveball. Everything just feels real comfortable for me right now.”