Arrieta makes strong statement

Jake Arrieta made a strong statement for the fifth rotation spot on Thursday night, tossing six scoreless innings and striking out nine in a Grapefruit League start against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Last year’s Opening Day starter, Arrieta cruised through four innings and pitched out of the only jam of the night in the fifth. After issuing a leadoff walk and an infield single, Arrieta retired the next three batters, including fanning Pedro Alvarez for his eighth strikeout. The 27-year-old right-hander extended his scoreless inning streak to 14 2/3 innings in the process, allowing six hits and two walks in an impressive outing.

Arrieta, who also pitched in an unofficial game against Spain, has appeared in five spring games (four starts) and allowed three earned runs on 13 hits and eight walks with 16 strikeouts over 17 1/3 innings.

Thursday’s outing gives Arrieta the edge on the spot, for now, with the main competitors considered to be Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson and Zach Britton.

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