Some teams can get away with pitching that is just okay and bats that are above average. The Philadelphia Phillies are currently a far cry from being a team with good pitching. Aaron Nola, to his credit, has looked better on the mound lately but hasn’t seemed true to his own form. Another player, who was brought onto the Phillies roster to be a quality starting pitcher and has underwhelmed thus far, is Jake Arrieta.
There was a time earlier in the offseason where it seemed Jake Arrieta was the best pitcher on the Philadelphia Phillies roster. It felt like the Phillies were finally going to start to see what they paid for in Arrieta. In April, he wasn’t pitching less than six innings in a game, had a 2.25 ERA, and a 3-1 record. It looked like that the 2019 Arrieta was going to become the number two to ace, Aaron Nola. It’s now July, and Arrieta is still pitching six innings a game, but with a 4.67 ERA and an 8-7 record. Everything fans thought they were getting, has now disappeared.
In the offseason, there were many reports about how Jake Arrieta was healthy for 2019 Arrieta pitched with a left knee injury last year, so in the 2019 offseason, when he was reported healthy, the Philadelphia Phillies were supposed to have two aces on their roster. MLB.com cited Arrieta’s 2018 knee injury as an “unexpected explanation” for his struggles towards the end of last season. More on that in a bit!
About the time that Jake Arrieta began to struggle this season, he never once owned up to any one of his struggles. If he did, it seemed so “after the fact.” To a certain extent, I would have been a little upset when Bryce Harper was ejected from the game when the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the New York Mets, 5-1, in April. Harper is a presence at the plate that does result in baserunners and an opportunity to win games at the plate, which is what Arrieta sounded off about. However, the reason why I am less inclined to get on Harper’s case is that he plays with a chip on his shoulder at all times and he hustles. Many more times, I’ve heard Arrieta complain about a teammate or make an excuse.
It wasn’t just with Jake Arrieta’s bit about Bryce Harper. He called the rest of the team flat in that same soundbite. When the team does well, Arrieta seems quiet. When they lose a game he pitches, the team was “flat.” After a 6-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, Arrieta called out all the negatives that went wrong around him, including the miscue on Scott Kingery’s base running. He blamed defensive shifts, which the Philadelphia Phillies were the worst on, but didn’t cite his own pitching. Ironically enough, he ended his rant, “we need some accountability all the way around – everybody, top to bottom.”
Now, I told you I would bring you back to this “unexpected explanation” point from earlier. It’s reported all the sudden that Jake Arrieta has bone spurs in his elbow and that’s the reason why he isn’t able to pitch the way he wants to. Arrieta provided this directly to the Philadelphia Phillies after being handled by the New York Mets this past Saturday. Arrieta, however, is going to pitch through it and get surgery in the offseason.
This is the same storyline that Jake Arrieta chose last season but in a new body part. I guess this explanation is all the sudden expected, but with Arrieta’s track record this season, it seems more to be an excuse as to why he is pitching bad now versus April. In his past seven starts, he has a 6.63 ERA. I have stated many times over the past few seasons that Matt Klentak has to overhaul the pitching in the bullpen. I’ve echoed that this season while adding that Klentak needs to make changes to the starting rotation. They have had the chance, so hopefully, a bad team will take Arrieta off our hands if Klentak makes an offer to pay him this season.
One more thing about Jake Arrieta that just adds to me being over him as a Philadelphia Phillie, his threat to “put a dent in [Todd] Frazier’s skull.” You know, in most cases, a Phillies fan might be fired up because you are saying this about a New York Met. However, Arrieta was the one playing beanball that night and then sounded off like this because he had an awful game. It’s one thing to say something stupid if you are playing good and are leading the division. It’s another when the team you are own has a .500 season in the shadows and you can’t find a strike zone.
Jonathan Papelbon, for all the headcase he was, was at least a highlight. The only real reason why Papelbon was disliked is that he was doing all of this on a bad team. Rob Gronkowski does all sorts of dumb things, but he played on a dynasty, so it was always fun. Jake Arrieta, you’re on the hot seat. Come back off the Major League Baseball all-star break ready to play, bone spurs and all. If you are hurt, get off the mound. If you can pitch, lose the excuse. It’s time to put up or shut up.
Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports