In the midst of one of the greatest stretches of pitching in MLB history, Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta is now dealing with steroid allegations.
In a sport all too familiar with the use of performance enhancing drugs, the last thing baseball needs at this time is for another star player to be lumped in with the black hole that is steroids. Coming off a season in which he won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, Arrieta has started the 2016 season with a 4-0 record, including his second no-hitter in his last nine regular season starts.
Following his 22-6 performance last season, Arrieta has become a household name and is generally regarded along with Clayton Kershaw as one of the two best pitchers in baseball. But after a rough start to his career, Arrieta’s recent dominance has brought along a few questions amongst his peers.
In an interview with USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Arrieta acknowledged the chatter spreading through clubhouses.
"I've heard players, and I’m talking about some of the best players in the league, question whether I’ve taken steroids or not," Arrieta said. "Some of the things I hear are pretty funny, and some people are idiots, frankly. I’ll see on Twitter, 'My close source revealed to me he’s on steroids.' Well, the 10 tests I take a year say otherwise. I eat plants. I eat lean meat. I work out. And I do things the right way."
In three-and-a-half seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, Arrieta had a middling record of 20-25 and a 5.46 ERA. While the 30-year-old’s performance clearly went from average to spectacular, it didn’t happen overnight. From 2012-2014, Arrieta’s ERA went from 6.20 to 2.53, and in his Cy Young season, it dropped to 1.77.
Arrieta remains adamant his recent dominance has nothing to do with cheating, and everything to do with hard work and determination.
"If there are guys still on it, I hope they get caught," Arrieta told Nightengale. "I care about the integrity of the game. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my family, my friends, my fans. That’s a huge motivating factor in doing it the right way."