Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta has throttled into a sphere of superstardom following a few mundane seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, but the 2015 National League Cy Young Award winner is sick of anonymous claims that he's been aided by the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
In an interview with USA Today's Bob Nightengale published Tuesday, Arrieta said he's heard the criticism lobbed his way ever since he started fanning batters like one of the league's best.
"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."
After going 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA over the course of three-and-a-half seasons with the Orioles, Arrieta has turned the corner and morphed into one of MLB's most dominant pitchers. Steady improvement was evident during the second half of the 2013 season and the 2014 campaign, but his 2015 campaign served as a revelation of sorts.
|Jake Arrieta's Career Stats|
Not only did Arrieta win a league-best 22 games while tossing four complete games and three shutouts, but he notched his first career no-hitter before earning Cy Young honors. This season, Arrieta has maintained dominant form with a 4-0 record, 0.87 ERA and the season's first no-hitter.
However, the 30-year-old made it clear he hasn't violated any rules or cut any corners to achieve greatness.
"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."
Arrieta also discussed his future in the Windy City and made it clear he plans to cash out with the Cubs or another franchise when he hits the open market in 2017.
"If we don’t work out a deal here and I go to free agency, I will get six or seven years," Arrieta said. "No doubt about that. I’d like to stay in Chicago, but if they don’t want me, somebody will."
Nightengale added that Arrieta and his agent, Scott Boras, sought a seven-year contract extension during the offseason only to be rebuffed. However, the star pitcher reiterated he'd like to remain with the Cubs if they're amenable to changing their negotiating tactics.
"I know the Cubs don’t typically do six- or seven-year deals, but I think there are obviously times when there should be exceptions," Arrieta added, per Nightengale. "I think I’ve done pretty well here. I would enjoy staying in Chicago. But when the opportunities are out there like they are, I’m going to keep an open mind."
If Arrieta can maintain a semblance of his current pace, the Cubs would be wise to seek a long-term partnership with their most prized pitcher.
According to CSN Chicago's Christopher Kamka, Arrieta is 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA, 173 strikeouts, 33 walks and 0.697 WHIP over his last 24 regular-season starts.
Those numbers may not be sustainable as Arrieta ages into his 30s, but even slight regression would keep him nestled in the league's elite-pitching tier.