In a move that surprises no one, Jake Arrieta was optioned down to AAA Norfolk today. Relief pitcher Alex Burnett has been called up to take his place, but he will presumably go back down to the minors on Wednesday when the Orioles need a starting pitcher.
Arrieta's season so far in 2013 has been much of the same that we saw in 2012, and the best word I can think of is frustrating. Unlike other pitchers who are just plain bad, Arrieta continues to show flashes of the pitcher we all want him to be. Unfortunately, those moments just haven't been enough as Arrieta spent the first four starts of the season struggling with his control, walking a whopping 16 batters in just 19 innings pitched.
Even when Arrieta is cruising, one speed bump seems to cause him to completely lose his way. This was the case in his start yesterday when he looked really good for a few innings, then was squeezed by the umpire for what was legitimately an unfair walk. He just couldn't get himself together after that and ultimately walked five and was knocked out after just four innings.
MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko has Arrieta's thoughts on the demotion:
"It's pretty obvious. I talked to Buck about a few things. We talked about high anxiety situations and he pretty much asked me, 'Why do you have high anxiety in any situation with the stuff you have?' Basically, I told him that I just want to be what my team needs me to be. Sometimes I create the anxiety for myself. So I just need to limit that and know that I don't have to create those type of situations for myself.
"It's not a stuff issue. As far as my mental approach, it's just knowing that the past is really irrelevant. It's about just staying in the moment. I let previous instances creep up in my thought process sometimes. I think that's where things go awry and that's where the walks come in. I'm not giving up many hits, just putting them on base for free. Just got to command the ball better in the strike zone. That's pretty much it."
As has been speculated a number of times both here and around the blogO'sphere, it sounds like Arrieta is just so far into his own head that he's gotten completely lost.
Here's to hoping that Arrieta can get himself straightened out with a few weeks in the minors, because the Orioles are going to need him (or another of the disappointing starters) to step up if they want to contend this season.