10:28am: Manager Gabe Kapler confirmed Arrieta has a bone spur. The Phillies will evaluate Arrieta in the coming days to determine whether he should keep pitching (via Lauber).
8:24am: Arrieta does think he has a bone spur, but he expects he’ll be able to continue pitching through it this season, per Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
7:49am: Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta turned in his latest clunker Saturday, a 4 1/3-inning start in which he allowed five earned runs on 11 hits in a loss to the Mets. Afterward, not only did Arrieta have some choice words for Mets third baseman Todd Frazier, but the former ace suggested he has been pitching through an injury (via Ken Rosenthal and Matt Gelb of The Athletic).
“I labored physically,” Arrieta said. “I wasn’t able to put the ball where I wanted to. It’s been that way for a few weeks. Just physically not in a great spot.”
It turns out Arrieta’s dealing with a bone spur in his right elbow that will likely require surgery at some point, Rosenthal and Gelb report. The Phillies have known about the injury, but their hope has been that it won’t prevent him from continuing to pitch. Now, though, it looks possible Arrieta will have to undergo a season-ending procedure, according to Rosenthal and Gelb. He previously underwent season-ending surgery on a bone spur while with the Orioles in 2011.
Although Arrieta said there’s no medical examination scheduled, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets that his elbow “will be checked.” If that exam yields bad news, his season – the second of a three-year, $75MM contract – could end. Should that happen, it seems likely to affect the Phillies’ trade deadline plans. Even with Arrieta having thrown a team-high 108 innings this season, its rotation has failed to produce compelling results and could be in line for upgrades. The struggles of the Phillies’ staff have helped lead to a mediocre 46-43 record for the club in the wake of an ultra-aggressive offseason. Philadelphia’s in third place in the NL East and 6 1/2 games behind the first-place Braves, though it’s only a half-game back of a wild-card spot.
Formerly a star with the Cubs, with whom he won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award, Arrieta has declined precipitously since he joined the Phillies. Arrieta was merely decent across 172 2/3 innings last year, but he has fallen well short of even posting average production this season. The 33-year-old has put up a 4.67 ERA/5.07 FIP with 7.08 K/9 and 3.33 BB/9. Despite a 50.9 percent groundball rate, Arrieta has yielded home runs on 20.2 percent of fly balls – roughly a 6 percent increase over last year’s figure. It seems Arrieta’s elbow issue has contributed to his problems, though, and it’s in question whether he’ll be able to keep laboring through it.