By the end of the 2010 season, Jake Arrieta was what we thought he was.
One of the top pitching prospects in baseball.
In his last three starts, which were against Boston, New York and Toronto, Arrieta went 2-0, 2.60. Over 17 1/3 innings, he walked just two and fanned 13.
The reduced walk number was a key stat for Arrieta during his 18 Major League starts this season.
Arrieta when he walked 2 or less: 5-0, 2.66 in 8 starts.
Arrieta when walking 3 or more: 1-6, 6.70 in 10 starts.
That, of course, is a striking difference.
Arrieta now heads into the fall and winter with confidence gained from having big league success.
He also knows that surgery is not in his immediate future.
Late in the year, after getting a second opinion from Angels physician Dr. Lewis Yocum, Arrieta decided not to have a bone spur removed from his right elbow. He had said it didn't bother him when he pitched and it didn't cause him any pain, but he did feel some stiffness after what turned out to be his last start on September 14 vs. the Blue Jays.
"Yocum basically said that if it's not bothering you, there is no reason to go in there and mess with it. Chances are you can pitch healthy your entire career without having it bother you. If it's not bothering you, in my opinion, there is no reason to go in there and mess with it. You never know what can happen after the fact.
"Like I said, I have never had pain in my career with it. Just plan on leaving it like this. The irony is, if I didn't come out of my start with a little tenderness in my tricep, this would never be an issue."
But didn't that tenderness bring some cause for concern?
"No, not at all. It wasn't even related to the bone spur. It just cramped up, tightened up, that stuff happens."
It seemed like the O's management was in favor of Arrieta having that surgery.
"They said it wouldn't be a bad idea to have it looked at a little closer and that's why I got a second opinion. Yocum is a guy that has done hundreds of these types of surgeries and he's seen how players react to it afterwards. His expertise was to leave it alone. It's a different story if it's broken off and is floating around in there, but it's sitting in one place not affecting anything."
Meanwhile, Arrieta said the club's strong finish was uplifting for the entire team.
"This gives everyone a pretty good idea of the team we are capable of being. It's a rewarding feeling going into the off season ending on such a high note like we have these last two months and it gives us all something to reflect on and look forward to. I'm confident everyone is going to work hard in the off season to come back and pick up where we left off this year. If that's the case, it can be an exciting season next year.
"There are definitely things we need to work on and get better as a team. It's not like we are just going to roll out next year and make the playoffs. We have to continue to work at the fundamentals, the small things.
"That is what spring training is for, getting us ready for a long season. I'm confident that Buck is going to have a good spring training set up for us and we'll all be ready to go in February."
And the strong finish of the O's young pitchers, Arrieta included, was a major development for the good during the O's 2010 campaign.
"That is one of the big bright spots. A lot of the young guys have stepped up and started to pitch well. Everyone is learning at a high level. If we can continue to do that, who knows how good we can be," Arrieta said.
Arrieta in 2010:
*Went 6-6, 4.66 in 18 starts over 100 1/3 IP
*Was 2-3, 4.76 in nine home starts
*Was 4-3, 4.56 in 9 road starts
vs. lefty hitters: .315 average against, .898 OPS
vs. righty hitters: .213 average against, .594 OPS
His ERA went down each month: