Orioles move struggling Jake Arrieta to the bullpen

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Jake Arrieta got the nod as the Orioles’ Opening Day starter this year, but now he’s bullpen-bound.

The Orioles made the decision after Arrieta gave up a career-high nine runs over four innings in a loss to the Phillies last night. There was talk about sending him down to Triple-A Norfolk, but the O’s want him to work through his struggles at the major league level. At least for now.

Arrieta has only made one relief appearance in pro ball, but he told Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he’s on board with the plan.

“I think it’s going to allow me to get a lot of the thoughts and emotions out of my head and when I come into the game just pitch,” Arrieta said shortly after finding out about the move. “My thought process has been way too in depth, and I’ve got way too much going on in my head right now to tweak so many things mechanically rather than going out there and feeling comfortable and executing pitches. That’s what I’m going to be able to do out of the bullpen.”

Arrieta opened this season with a 2.66 ERA across his first three starts, but he has an unsightly 7.71 over his last 10 starts and has lost six straight decisions dating back to May 2. While his velocity is up this year and his peripheral numbers have improved, he has allowed more runs than any pitcher in baseball. His unusually low 56.3 percent strand rate is a big reason for that, but that he’s given up line drives 24 percent of the time suggests opposing batters haven’t had much trouble squaring him up.

Royals sign Clay Buchholz to minor league deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Royals have signed pitcher Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal. Buchholz will earn a $1.5 million salary if he makes the club’s major league roster and can earn an additional $250,000 through incentives. Buchholz has an opt-out date set for May 1, which means if he isn’t on the Royals’ 25-man roster by then, he can request his release.

Buchholz, 33, was acquired by the Phillies from the Red Sox in December 2016, but he made only two starts before an MRI revealed he had a partial tear of his right flexor pronator mass. He underwent surgery in April and missed the rest of the season.

The Royals recently lost Jesse Hahn, who was diagnosed with a sprained right UCL. Buchholz would likely be in consideration for a rotation spot if another starter were to suffer an injury. Presently, the Royals’ rotation appears set with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, and Nate Karns.