"I'm just kind of lost right now." - Jake Arrietta after the 9-6 loss to Philadelphia
Honesty is something you don't often hear from professional athletes. Whether it is ego or the fear of failure or the big money contract, even when times are bad, fans usually don't hear the full truth. After the worst outing of his career and the worst Orioles pitching performance of 2012, Jake Arrietta was as blunt and honest as a person can be.
He's lost. And seeing that is the first step to fixing things.
There is often a higher expectation for athletes to perform well every minute of every game. It's not a fair expectation but it does come with the territory, especially when big money is being made over the course of a year for a sports game that is played 162 times a year. But as Orioles manager Buck Showalter likes to remind the media, players are not robots, they are human beings. We don't know what is going on with their lives outside the 3 hours we spend with them during the game.
Orioles fans on twitter and various message boards are calling for Jake to be sent to Norfolk. And he definitely should be sent down to AAA but for more than just his poor outings.
Jake is a high quality pitcher. He definitely can pitch in the majors. He has shown it before and he will most likely show it again. This trip to Norfolk needs to be more about focusing his efforts on clearing his head and taking care of the little things. He needs to understand that his fastball is his best pitch and he shouldn't be afraid to use it. He needs to get ahead of hitters and then unleash his off speed pitches. Unlike Brian Matusz, who can work backwards effectively, Jake has a fastball that is worthy of getting major league hitters out. But when you fall behind 2-0 on off speed stuff and then throw a fastball over the plate, of course major league hitters are going to jump on it.
We have seen how long and painful of a journey it has been for Brian Matusz to recover from his awful 2011. The one constant that Paul and I knew about Matusz was that he had a good head on his shoulders. If he could strengthen up and regain his confidence, he would be fine in the long run. I believe the same can be said for Jake.
If Jake is sent back down to Norfolk, the last thing he should view it as is a demotion. He should see it as a break from the day to day pressure of the big leagues and refocus his efforts to find what got him to the Orioles in the first place.