After the Phillies’ loss to the Giants on Sunday, Arrieta told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia and other reporters that his elbow “hurts every day.” On whether he’ll continue working through the issue, Arrieta said: “I don’t necessarily want to make a decision right now. We’ll have the off day Monday and maybe have a conversation on Tuesday.”
Arrieta’s elbow problems would seem to at least partially explain the former Cy Young winner’s severe drop-off this season. The 33-year-old turned in another poor performance Sunday, yielding five earned runs on seven hits in three frames, and hasn’t recorded the definition of a quality start (at least six innings, three earned runs or fewer) since June 19. Arrieta’s struggles have led to a 4.64 ERA/4.89 FIP over 135 2/3 innings in a season that has become increasingly disappointing for the Phillies.
On the heels of an ultra-aggressive winter, Philadelphia opened the campaign with National League East title aspirations. The club delivered early, sitting nine games over .500 as recently as June 9, but it’s now a mediocre 60-58. While the Phillies are still a manageable two games behind a wild-card spot, they’re nine back in the NL East, where they sit in fourth place.
It’s clear the Phillies’ starting staff is among the primary reasons they’ve essentially tread water to this point. Aside from Aaron Nola, no starter they’ve consistently trotted out has been all that effective. Even Nola’s aggregate production has fallen off from 2017-18. But there’s no bigger letdown in the bunch than Arrieta, whose days as a front-end starter have appeared over throughout his time with the Phillies.
Since inking a three-year, $75MM contract entering 2018, Arrieta has given the Phillies 308 1/3 innings of 4.26 ERA/4.53 FIP ball. The ex-Cub’s deal gives him the ability to opt out after this season, but thanks to his middling output and injury situation, that isn’t going to happen. Likewise, the Phillies aren’t going to exercise an option that would add two years and $40MM to the pact. As a result, Arrieta will earn $20MM in 2020, which seems likely to wind up as his last season with the Phillies.