Jake Arrieta shut out the Yankees for eight innings on May 2, striking nine and walking none, and it looked like the 26-year-old right-hander might finally be living up to the promise he showed as a top prospect in the Orioles’ farm system.
Instead he’s been a mess since then, going 0-5 with a 7.96 ERA in six starts. Sunday versus the Rays he failed to make it out of the fifth inning for the third time in his last five outings, leading to speculation that he might be headed for Triple-A.
Arrieta’s secondary numbers during that time aren’t nearly as hideous as his win-loss record or ERA, as he’s posted a decent 28/14 K/BB ratio in 32 innings, but he’s allowed opponents to bat .330 with five homers.
There’s still time for Arrieta to get back on track and become an impact pitcher for the Orioles, but any thoughts of him developing into a top-of-the-rotation starter are rapidly disappearing and may already be gone. He’s started 52 career games and thrown 290 innings … and has a 5.03 ERA with just 6.3 strikeouts per nine frames.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.