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Orioles director of pitching development Rick Peterson recently spent some time at Triple-A Norfolk where he got to work with pitcher Jake Arrieta for the first time.
Peterson was able to show Arrieta his biomechanical analysis results from earlier in the year and begin to work on some things to try and get the right-hander back on track after he went 3-9 with a 6.13 ERA in 18 Orioles starts.
"When we sat with Jake and reviewed his analysis, Jake was very inquisitive about things that he saw in his analysis and he really asked a lot of questions. Jake is very introspective," Peterson said.
"I think he realizes that his talent is way too good for the way that he pitched there. He was very interested about his analysis and some of the corrections we can make. He said, 'I don't want to just make some minor adjustments, I want to build this delivery to last.'
"We've done a lot with Jake and tried to really make all the adjustments we possibly could so he won't have to keep making them. Let's be all in on this. Jake's outcome numbers have not been close to his process of where he's been."
Arrieta, who will start for Norfolk tonight, is 3-1 with a 3.63 ERA in four Norfolk starts.
"The big thing with Jake is that he has to build a delivery that he can just pound the bottom of the strike zone and utilize that changeup and curveball," Peterson said. "He's got a great curveball, not just a good one. He has to command his fastball to both sides of the plate, especially down in the zone. I think he is on a fast track to get back on pace.
"I'm very optimistic about him and I base that on his attitude and Jake's ability to repeat his delivery and to commit to this process. He is so diligent. He's down in that bullpen, day after day after day, going through a whole series of drills to get the muscle memory of this."
Peterson said there are some things Arrieta is doing in the games with the Tides designed to help him improve even if they are not what is best now for him to get the best results. So what is the key for Arrieta to get to a point where he can put up good big league numbers?
"It's a couple of things. It's, one, for him to have a comprehension of how his delivery feels and works for him in an efficient way and he has that understanding now," Peterson said.
"There are three sides to a peak-performance triangle. One is skill, two is a conditioning component and three is a mental and emotional skill. When you get back to the big leagues, can you go there and relax and execute a game plan at a high level? That is the mental and emotional side of it that's going to let you have your talent really shine in the big leagues."
Peterson said he feels that Arrieta can return to pitch well for the Orioles this year and that this is not a long-term process he is undertaking right now.
Meanwhile, Peterson has met with left-hander Brian Matusz, but it sounds like he has been less involved with him at this point.
"We talked about some things I felt would be helpful for him. He felt really good actually about where he was delivery-wise, so we really only made a couple of really small tweaks and then it's wait and see and go out and pitch," Peterson said. "We'll observe and give some feedback on it. We really haven't done that much with Brian."
Audio highlights from Kevin Gausman's pro debut: Orioles 2012 first-round pick pitcher Kevin Gausman made an excellent pro debut last night. He retired all nine batters he faced, two on strikeouts, for short-season Single-A Aberdeen at State College. Gausman threw 31 pitches, 23 for strikes.
Lefty Cameron Coffey replaced Gausman and gave up just one run on two hits. Then Tommy Winegardner came on to close out the game with a perfect ninth inning, picking up his fourth save as the IronBirds posted a 4-1 victory.
Click below to hear some Gausman play-by-play highlights courtesy of broadcaster Tim Murray and the IronBirds radio broadcast.