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.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Nationals are expected to consider Cal Ripken Jr. for their managerial vacancy. Ripken, of course, was recently reported to have been considered by the club the last time the job was open.
This could be a courtesy. And if you’re a Nats fan, you have to hope it is, right? Because the single biggest argument in favor of Matt Williams when he was hired was that he was a top player in his day, wasn’t too far removed from his playing career and could be a good clubhouse guy who understood what made major leaguers tick. His lack of experience was brushed off. All of which would be the same thing for Ripken, except he doesn’t even have the coaching experience Williams had and is even farther removed from his playing days.
I know he’s famous and everything, but if the Nationals’ 2015 season is evidence of anything, perhaps it should be evidence that sometimes it’s useful to have a manager who has actually, you know, made a pitching change once in his professional life.
Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.
Today the Nationals fired Williams and his entire coaching staff following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.
Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.
His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.
Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.
Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.