No one knew that Jake Arrieta would be this good. The Orioles always knew he had talent, but no one, no one could have imagined that Arrieta would get on this kind of roll.
Most Orioles fans were relieved when Arrieta was sent away in July 2013. He had frustrated them, and team officials.
In his first two seasons, Arrieta was 16-14 with an ERA around five. He was called up to the Orioles in June 2010 while Juan Samuel was the team’s interim manager, and teased the team with his obvious talent.
Arrieta was an overthinker, and in 2012, regressed to a 3-9 record with a 6.20 ERA. A year later after going 1-2 with a 7.20 ERA in five starts and being sent back to Norfolk yet again, Arrieta and Pedro Strop, a reliever who had also regressed, were traded to the Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger.
Feldman, who manager Buck Showalter had long admired, had a decent half-season in Baltimore before signing a three-year, $30 million contract with Houston.
Clevenger could be a useful part of next season’s team.
Everyone with the Orioles liked Arrieta. Yet, everyone was frustrated by him, and they felt he’d never be successful with the Orioles.
It would have been fascinating if the Orioles had hung onto to Arrieta if Dave Wallace could have unlocked the same talent that Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio has. Wallace didn’t arrive until the season after Arrieta left.
In the run-up to Wednesday night’s Cubs win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, many fans groused that it was unfair that the teams with the second and third best record in baseball could only play one postseason game.
I thought it was great. The 98-win Pirates and the 97-win Cubs was a much more compelling matchup than the 87-win Yankees and 86-win Astros.
Shorter series are more exciting. There’s more of a sense of urgency. In many ways, the best of five Division Series are more exciting than the best of seven League Championship Series.
Before the advent of the wild card, it wasn’t uncommon to see teams with excellent records excluded from the postseason. In 1980, the Orioles won 100 games, but New York won three more to capture the AL East.
In 1993, the last season before the wild card, the San Francisco Giants won 103 games, but the Atlanta Braves won 104 to win the NL East.
To paraphrase Showalter, you want to get to the postseason, play better. If the Pirates won three more games, they would have won the NL Central.
Instead, Arrieta gets to pitch in his first Division Series. In 2012, he was left off the roster for the Orioles-Yankees matchup.
MORE ORIOLES: For starters, what derailed the Orioles in 2015?