Jake Arrieta started last night’s game against Pittsburgh, which ended in a 0-0 tie. First off, I wouldn’t look at that score and start worrying about hitting with runners in scoring position, scoring, etc. Oriole bats are going to be just fine in the long run. However the real story of the day was Arrieta’s performance in the game, as he makes his case for being the #5 starter in the starting rotation. Arrieta’s line: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K. Arrieta lowered his spring ERA to 1.56, and based on performances of late has to be the front runner for the final spot on the starting rotation.
Arrieta hasn’t allowed a run over three starts and 14.2 innings pitched, and has looked extremely sharp in games. After the game Buck Showalter noted that Arrieta had a bit of trouble out of the windup, as a few of the six hits came from that stance. However it’s tough to argue with the results that he put up last night. Without reading into too much, I feel it’s also worth mentioning that Arrieta pitched six innings. That’s a bit more than one might expect a starting pitcher to go, even at this late stage of spring training. (In the coming week or so I would expect each of the Orioles’ starting pitchers to pitch a game where they go deeper into the game, such as six or even seven innings.) Was Showalter testing Arrieta to see if he had longevity in him at this stage? Showalter said afterwards that he felt Arrieta could have gone seven innings in the game had he not inserted Luis Ayala.
Again, at this point one would have to consider Arrieta the front runner for the fifth starting rotation job. But as much as yesterday’s column was about saying that Zach Britton (who had a poor outing on Tuesday) isn’t out of the picture yet, this doesn’t mean that Arrieta’s home free either. In the five rotation spots I believe that Showalter’s looking for the most complete pitchers. Translated, that means the most consistent. Arrieta’s been very consistent this spring, and that’s a good thing. Showalter’s announced nothing about the starting rotation, and I suspect he won’t do so until perhaps next Thursday or Friday. However I would bet that it’s shaping up to be Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tilman, and then…someone else. Could that someone else be Jake Arrieta?
Right fielder Nick Markakis was also cleared to begin baseball activities yesterday. Markakis of course has been out since the beginning of March with neck spasms, and is slated to begin an intensive regiment at Twin Lakes Park in the next couple of days that will get him up to speed in terms of hitting. I would suggest that Orioles fans not worry too much about Markakis in terms of timing at the plate and so forth. Granted he’s missed a lot of time in spring training, however you’ll recall that last season he missed a similar amount of time after recovering from surgery in January. Markakis doesn’t need much time to get himself up to speed as a hitter, and by Opening Day he was in mid-season form. Showalter hasn’t said when we’ll actually see Markakis in a game, however there should be little doubt that when the curtain comes up on the 2013 Baltimore Orioles, he’ll be ready to go.