As Jake Arrieta takes the mound tonight at Atlanta, here is an interesting Arrieta stat.
He is the toughest Orioles' starter to get a base hit off of. Opponent batters hit just .233 off Arrieta while that number is .251 against Zach Britton and .263 against Jeremy Guthrie.
There are some observers that feel Arrieta has the best "stuff" on the staff. He has a fastball that hits the mid-90s and a nasty slider. But he struggles with command and control and that is often a battle for him. If Arrieta's command improves, his game could really take off.
He leads Orioles starters averaging 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings, another indicator that his stuff is plenty good enough.
But Arrieta's WHIP is higher than Britton and Guthrie, who both are at 1.27 to Arrieta's 1.34 in that stat. The walks get him in trouble. Guthrie averages just 2.2 walks per every nine innings and that figure is 3.1 for Britton and 4.3 for Arrieta.
I have heard some say his curveball command is a real key for him. If hitters notice early in the game that Arrieta is struggling with the breaking ball, they will just lay off that pitch and sit on his fastball. Even in the mid-90s it becomes much more hittable when the batters are looking for it.
Jair Jurrjens showed us last night what a pitcher can do with great command. He got ahead of hitters and put his pitches where he wanted them. He didn't blow the Orioles away with amazing stuff. But he was dominant with command of all his pitches all night. It was impressive to watch.
It's just hard to pitch well in the major leagues without commanding most of your pitches most of the time. For Jake Arrieta and many other hurlers as well.