The Phillies have placed right-hander Jake Arrieta on the 10-day injured list, and Arrieta himself told reporters today that his season is likely over (Twitter link via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune). “I’ll probably miss the remainder of the season,” said Arrieta, who is slated to undergo an MRI on Thursday.
The elbow troubles that are sidelining Arrieta aren’t a new revelation. Early in July, it was announced by the Phils that Arrieta was pitching through bone spurs in his elbow that would require eventual surgery. Arrieta has continued to pitch through the discomfort, though it seems as though he’s now reached a tipping point. Right-hander Zach Eflin, who was recently dropped to the bullpen, will return to the rotation to start in place of Arrieta on Saturday, tweets Scott Lauber of Philly.com.
It’s been a rather middling season for Arrieta, 33, as he’s pitched to a 4.64 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 through 24 starts — a total of 135 1/3 innings. Arrieta carried a 3.96 ERA through Memorial Day, but the summer hasn’t been kind to him as he’s pitched through those injuries; over his past 65 2/3 frames, he’s stumbled to a 5.76 ERA with a 51-to-25 K/BB ratio, four hit batters and a dozen home runs allowed.
Arrieta is in the second season of a three-year, $75MM contract that contains an opt-out clause after the 2019 season. Given the current injury and his summer struggles, that opt-out seems decidedly unlikely to be exercised, meaning he’ll remain under contract in Philadelphia through the 2020 season, when he’s slated to earn $20MM. The Phillies also hold a two-year, $40MM club option on Arrieta that they’ll surely forgo in light of his current health and recent struggles.
With Arrieta headed to the shelf for what looks to be the duration of the year, the Phillies will lean on Aaron Nola, Eflin, Vince Velasquez and a pair of recent newcomers — Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas — to round out the rotation for now. Both Smyly and Vargas have given the Phillies a pair of strong outings, though Smyly’s two most recent turns haven’t been as sharp. The Phillies have fallen to nine games out of the division lead in the NL East but are still just two games out of an NL Wild Card spot.