Reigning National League Cy Young award-winner Jake Arrieta feels both flattered and insulted as some of his peers are doubting the legitimacy of his historic run the last two years.
Speaking to USA Today, Arrieta, who owns a 4-0 record with a 0.87 ERA this season, revealed that some of MLB's top performers have raised questions about his career resurgence.
"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. Some of the things I hear are pretty funny, and some people are idiots, frankly."
Beginning his career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, Arrieta always showed the potential to be a dominant pitcher but never put together a season reflective of his ability. From 2010 to 2013 in Baltimore, Arrieta never logged more than 119-and-one-third innings pitched or 10 wins in one season. He also never posted an ERA below 4.66.
Struggling to expand on his potential, Arrieta was demoted to Triple-A on several occasions in both 2012 and 2013. In early June of 2013, the Orioles traded Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and an international signing bonus to the Cubs in exchange for starting pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
With the trade, Arrieta concluded his run with Baltimore as a 20-25 pitcher with a 5.46 ERA.
In a separate interview withESPN, Arrieta also addressed the notion that his body looks bigger and stronger in Chicago than it did during his Baltimore stint.
"I think it's funny. I've always been in good shape. I just sucked early in my career from a statistical perspective. My body has always been very similar to how it is now. The results are different, so people want to question things. That's the nature of sports."
During his half season with the Cubs in 2013, Arrieta went 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA in nine starts. Unfortunately, his troubling start with the Orioles that season hurt his overall statistics as he finished 5-4 with a 4.78 ERA. The following season, Arrieta started harnessing some of that potential.
In 25 starts for the 2014 Cubs, Arrieta went 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA through 156-and-two-thirds innings pitched. He finished ninth in the NL Cy Young award voting.
"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."
What a run it has been for Jake Arrieta. pic.twitter.com/I1UzxS23Ed
— Baseball Tonight (@BBTN) April 24, 2016
Last season was Arrieta's breakout campaign as he went 20-6 with a 1.77 ERA in 33 starts. Arrieta also compiled 229 innings pitched, 236 strikeouts, four complete games, and three shutouts (one no-hitter). In fact, as ESPN noted, dating back his past 24 outings, including his second no-hitter last Thursday, Arrieta has gone 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA.
"You know what I'm paying attention to?" Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN's First Take on Thursday. "How deep he goes into games, how his arm never gets tired, and innings pitched over the last two years."
Smith brought up the extreme jumps in the total innings Arrieta has pitched and how quickly he went from any other pitcher to arguably the most dominant hurler in the game.
We're proud to recognize another timeless @JArrieta34 no-hitter!⌚#NoNo pic.twitter.com/5jyOJiMjsG
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 27, 2016
"I'm looking at it and I'm saying to myself 'all right, I'm not gonna accuse you of using performance-enhancing supplements, drugs -- whatever you wanna call it, but I will say that you shouldn't just be laughing at those that are looking at you and saying 'excuse me, what the hell is going on?'"
As he prepares to start tonight against Milwaukee Brewers, Arrieta was adamant in stating that any PED users should be punished for cheating the system. In his mind, however, he isn't one of those.
"I think it's flattering," he said to ESPN about all the attention. "I know I've never taken any shortcuts and never intend to."
[Featured Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]