Arrieta shuts himself down; surgery could be next

Frustrated over not being able to pitch effectively with bone chips in his elbow, Jake Arrieta has shut himself down, possibly for the rest of the season.
Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta attempted to pitch through an injury, but may wind up shut down for the season after an ineffective stretch of games. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Jake Arrieta attempted to pitch with bone chips in his right elbow, but after has latest outing, he decided that he wasn’t able to continue at a level that the team needed. The right-hander will have an MRI and after receiving the results, he and the team will decide the course of action for the rest of the season.

Arrieta told reporters that it wasn’t the pain that ultimately shut him down, but the loss of feel for his pitches, which led to ineffectiveness that ultimately drove his decision. “I think that the time is right to make it happen now and get a guy in the rotation that has pitched really well for us and give him an opportunity to get back to the form where he was at earlier in the season for us. I think we’ll be in good hands,” said Arrieta.

The guy Arrieta was talking about is Zach Eflin, who will come out of the bullpen to rejoin the rotation, starting Saturday against the San Diego Padres. Eflin opened the season in the Phillies rotation and made 20 starts prior to being moved to the bullpen after posting a 7-11 record and a 4.63 ERA. Since moving to the bullpen, Eflin has posted a 1.59 ERA in four games, covering 5 2/3 innings.

On the season, Arrieta is 8-8 with a 4.64 ERA, but has struggled to make it past five innings in his last seven starts. His longest outing since July 6th was 5 2/3 innings in Pittsburgh on July 19th. In his last outing against the Giants, Arrieta made it through just three innings, prompting him to rethink the plan to pitch through the injury for the rest of the season.

If Arrieta elects to have surgery now rather than postponing the move until after the season, it will end his season, but he will likely be healthy enough to start spring training pretty much on time.

In 2020, Arrieta will be coming into the final guaranteed season of a three-year, $75-million deal he signed with the Phillies in March of 2018. The Phillies hold option years for 2021 and 2022 at $22.5-million per season. Arrieta could also opt-out of his deal after this season, although with the injury, it’s unlikely that he will decide to do so.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler complimented Arrieta on attempting to pitch through the injury. “Every fifth day, despite being uncomfortable and not being able to execute his pitches the way he wanted to execute his pitches, he gave us everything he had. It was genuinely a heroic effort in a lot of ways.”

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