Arrieta, 33, had been pitching through the injury since early in the summer, to less-than-stellar results. The 2019 season was the hurler’s worst since his days in Baltimore: though the righty somehow maintained a fastball velocity in the 92-93 MPH range despite the injury, he again struggled to miss bats, command the baseball, and keep it in the park. Though the second half of Arrieta’s season didn’t much differ from the first – apart from his outings often being truncated upon his reaching the 75-80 pitch mark – the pain seemed to intensify, and both team and player finally pulled the plug following a disastrous Sunday outing in San Francisco in which the 2015 Cy Young Award winner was touched for five earned in just three innings pitched.
Arrieta signed a three-year, $75MM deal prior to his age 32 season in 2018. The Chicago reclamation project anchored the Cubs staff for years, but his ERA, on the back of an otherworldly Cub defense, had long outpaced his peripherals, a gap which reached a head in his 2017 walk season, where ERA estimators pegged the righty at the top end of the fourth-starter range. He’s been about that or worse in Philly, where despite steady grounder and walk rates, the former fifth-rounder has seen his strikeout rates slide to worse than eight per nine and his gopher-ball rate ascend to below-league-average totals.
Like its bullpen, the Phillies’ rotation is mostly in shambles now. It can always count on ace Aaron Nola, but it’s now Vince Velasquez, Drew Smyly, Jason Vargas, and Zach Eflin beyond, a quartet that won’t inspire much confidence as the group charges toward its first playoff appearance since 2011.