The bone spur in Jake Arrieta’s right elbow brought enough discomfort to derail the veteran right-hander before the All-Star break, but it will not be enough to remove Arrieta from the Phillies’ starting rotation.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday on SportsRadio 94WIP’s morning show that Arrieta will start this weekend against the visiting Washington Nationals instead of being placed on the injured list or having elbow surgery. Arrieta revealed the injury Saturday after he was roughed up by the Mets in his final start of before the All-Star break.
He has a 6.63 ERA in his last seven starts and has not pitched past the sixth inning since Memorial Day.
“Jake is a competitor,” Kapler said. “And for the Phillies, it’s always worth considering if Jake at 85 percent of himself is a better option than what we have at triple A. It’s not terribly uncommon for veteran pitchers to successfully pitch with issues like this one. So as of now, Jake will make his start for us against the Nationals and we’re going to support him.”
The Phillies will start Nick Pivetta on Friday night against Stephen Strasburg, and Aaron Nola on Saturday against Patrick Corbin. They have yet to announce a starter for Sunday against Max Scherzer, but it will likely be Arrieta.
The Phillies and Nationals entered the break in position for the two National League wild-card spots, which might be the race to follow the rest of the season as Atlanta is not showing any signs of fading atop the NL East. The Phillies will then host the NL-leading Dodgers for a four-game series as they meet for the first time since the Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Phillies at Dodger Stadium on June 2.
Kapler said Arrieta’s bone spur has affected the way he throws his curveball and the general location of his pitches. Opponents are slugging .711 against his breaking pitches over his last seven starts. They were slugging just .397 against the breaking pitches in his first 11 starts. He has thrown breaking pitches almost as frequently in both stretches.
The Phillies already plan to add one starting pitcher before the July 31 trade deadline, but finding two could be too much to ask. They could bring back left-hander Cole Irvin or right-hander Enyel De Los Santos from triple A or perhaps dip into double A for right-hander Adonis Medina or left-hander Damon Jones, both of whom are more highly regarded prospects.
But that will not be needed if Arrieta can overcome the bone spur. He will have an MRI test this week in Philadelphia, but Kapler said the best indication of his health will be how he handles the Nationals. The Phillies, if they are to stay in the playoff race, will need an improved Arrieta.
“He’s been effective, but he can’t quite finish the way he should be able to. In his last start, you could tell he had no feel for the baseball at all, so I’m not sure it’s getting any better,” catcher J.T. Realmuto said this week. “I know Jake, and if there’s a way he can pitch through it, he’s going to try.”