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What makes Arrieta better for Cubs than with O's?


What makes Arrieta better for Cubs than with O's?

Since joining the Chicago Cubs in a midseason trade in 2013, Jake Arrieta has become more of the pitcher that the Orioles hoped he would become.

In 3½ seasons in Baltimore, he went 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA. In about two years with the Cubs, Arrieta is 21-12 with a 2.89 ERA.

What has made Arrieta a better pitcher?

In a sabermetric piece at mlb.com, Mike Petriello points to some factors that have a lot to do with Arrieta’s pitch selection and what those pitches are doing.

The first big change has been less reliance on his fastball. As an Oriole in 2011, Arrieta threw it 35 percent of the time. This year, the fastball makes up just 10 percent of his pitches.

Though Arrieta was known for his fastball as he rose to the Orioles, once in the majors, that pitch was above average, but not outstanding. By measures of velocity and spin rate, Arrieta ranks in the 70 to 75th percentile of major leaguers who regularly throw four-seam fastballs. So he wasn’t having great results.

But when it comes to his other pitches, Arrieta ranks among the majors’ elite in spin and/or velocity. His sinker and changeup are top 10 in both, curve eighth in spin and slider third in velocity.

Petriello points out that a lower spin rate is actually what a pitcher usually wants on sinkers and changeups, making them drop more quickly. However, because Arrieta’s pitches are staying up longer — often an invitation for trouble — he may be benefiting.

“Arrieta's change and sinker come in harder and with higher spin than batters are used to seeing, and they're having trouble compensating, likely because it's a different look,” Petriello writes.

One sign that this is happening: When batters connect with Arrieta’s sinker, they don’t hit it very hard. His exit velocity — measuring the speed of balls off the bat — on the sinker is better than all but one starter in the majors.

The switch apparently has come on for Arrieta. Unfortunately for the Orioles, it didn’t happen until after he left Baltimore.


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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

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Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

USA Today Sports

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.