Jake Arrieta is a power pitcher with a full arsenal that consists of six pitches, but really he sits with a basic four. He will live and breathe off the powerful fastball, his aggressive nature, and round it out with sharp breaking pitches. His effort sometimes reaches more than you want to see out of a starter, but it’s something I feel will decrease with age and experience. I still rate him as a “thrower” rather than “pitcher” until he completely learns the craft. I have first hand sources that suggest he is eager to learn from others and one day he can become a top of the rotation arm with a few minor changes to his overall makeup.
This is a pitch with a great deal of potential, but he tends to emphasize it a bit too much at times. He falls in love with blowing pitches by hitters and sometimes it can haunt his presence on the mound. His pitch tends to run 94-95 mph and will touch 96 mph at times. It was a bit flat and placement was a bit erratic on Saturday, but I think he was better than his opening outing with his command. I think it boiled down to wanting to blow by pitches against a strong lineup and when you force it, it has a life of its own. I feel the strike zone was bit tight and inconsistent, but not enough to think it caused a problem with his game plan.
This pitch is more of a cutter rather than a sinking two seam fastball. I think it was due to the cold temperatures and lack of feel, but there was little sink in the pitch Saturday night. He really pushed the pitch along with the four seam in the first two innings and I really did not see this pitch in the last two innings. Partial blame to him, partial blame to Jake Fox and Mark Connor.
Jake was putting in lightly that he was too focused on this pitch. He threw it a lot more than he ever should have on a cold night. It was not crisp, but on occasion he threw it towards the left side of the plate with better snap to it. It was sitting in the 87-89 mph range. As with his other pitches, his command of the pitch was simply erratic at times and sharp in other moments with a sharp break away from right handed hitters.
He got caught with some hangers up in the zone and one was tattooed to Eutaw Street. I could count 5 different hitters that were waiting on the slider that night and left hand batters were the main culprit. He fell in love with the pitch a bit too much and even he admitted this in an interview later that night.
Where in the world is this pitch when he boasts the ability to throw a circle change and forkball type of change without the snap? A power pitcher in the 96 mph area should have a focal point of fastball/change up on a night when the temperatures were not ideal. He threw a splitter/change with a decent break in the low to mid 80s, but maybe for three or four pitches, which is truly something that he needs to pull off more often. He throws everything hard and a change would pay dividends in the future. I like the split change if he wants to push the slider in his arsenal. If he wants to force the 12/6 curve he is better off with the circle change. These two subtle differences give him two sets of speeds and two different break paths.
He used this pitch as his off-speed special in the third and fourth innings. It was a decent 83-85 mph offering with a 12/6 break that was tight on two pitches, but was thrown in the dirt just as often. Even to keep hitters honest he should have attempted it more often in his outing. I would have never attempted it in the zone on a cold night because of the chance it will hang, but he did this already with his slider twice.
He is clean, but on the border with a bit more emphasis that I tend to like out of a repeatable delivery. He has done a better job over last season with foot placement and stride length and his arm slots have always been good, but not great. His mechanics are right on the border, but nothing to think that it poses future issues. His hand placement places less stress on the elbow with either the curve or slider. I would prefer he use that split change because it seems to drop without a snap movement. Less snaps or torques in the delivery leads to a healthier arm.
He is a power pitcher and uses his lower half really well, getting a lot out of his torso and hips. His power is not coming from a forced arm action and it is something that younger kids should see as an example of driving towards the plate. His follow through was bit tighter that evening, but I account this to the colder weather.
His outing was not ideal, but there were some things to take away from his outing and you can tell by the post game what needs to be corrected. He came into a few at bats with a similar pattern and was throwing hard pitches 75% of the time. He caught every hitter off guard whenever he did throw a change up or curve ball and someone should have caught that one quickly in the third inning.
I could clearly tell Adrian Beltre was sitting on the slider when he hit the home run in the third; Jake burned with a fastball to start off the at bat. His second pitch was a curve and Beltre was so far out in front that his torso twisted in the wind. He lost his balance slightly so it was more up-lift in the swing indicating that he was trying to pull the dip. I see this and instantly would say that you want to give him something to top. I want it low, but force it away and out of the zone slightly. I would not have given him anything to hit when his head is clouds about what you plan to throw. He threw it low, but 92 mph is not going to cut it on a fastball power hitter.
He needs to change speeds, give different looks, keep out of patterns and do everything he can to keep the hitter’s timing off center. His quality stuff can be plus on each pitch and without the constant change in makeup it will do little to help him in the long term. Young power pitchers want to challenge every batter with the four seam fastball. They want to pound and strike you out in the worst way possible and he simply needs to learn to trust everything and force the game to him.
Whenever he becomes the fluid and dynamic type of pitcher I expect him to be a constant thorn in the side of the teams in the AL East.