Jake Arrieta is getting the start tonight in Detroit and another chance to prove he belongs in the major leagues.
"I've been waiting just for an opportunity, and I look forward to capitalizing on that and just contributing to continue help this team win," Arrieta said Sunday after watching the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox.
But it’s fair to wonder how many more chances Arrieta will get here if he doesn’t take advantage of this one.
Once a promising pitching prospect, Arrieta is now 27, which means he is no longer a prospect. And with a 6.46 ERA in the majors since the start of 2012, his future no longer looks all that promising.
He still can be optioned, but the non-waiver trade deadline is next month and you couldn’t blame the Orioles for losing patience with him.
After posting a 4.66 ERA as a rookie in 2010, he has been maddeningly inconsistent and his ERA has increased every year. He went 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA in 2012 and finished the season in the bullpen.
It looked like Arrieta could be due for a bounce-back season in 2013, but it has been a difficult couple of months for the righty, starting with a disappointing four-game stint back in April.
Arrieta never pitched more than five innings in four starts with the Orioles. He walked 16 batters and gave up 14 hits in 19 innings, routinely ran up his pitch count in early innings and taxed the bullpen early in the season. When the Orioles sent Arrieta, who went 1-1 with a 6.63 ERA, down to Norfolk, manager Buck Showalter acknowledged that the mercurial starter’s issues were mostly mental.
It was more of the same for Arrieta against Triple-A hitters. He had three starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer. But he got rocked in his last two outings, went seven innings in just one of his six starts for the Tides and posted a poor 5.50 ERA in seven appearances.
Arrieta was recalled Friday and will start tonight against the Detroit Tigers because Jason Hammel is recovering from a stomach virus.
Arrieta is getting the (next) opportunity that he has been waiting for, but it is coming against Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and a Tigers offense that is one of the most dangerous in baseball.
He can make a loud statement on either end of the spectrum, depending on which Arrieta is on the mound tonight in Detroit. For his sake, he better make sure that good Jake shows up.