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July 07, 2019

Report: Phillies' Jake Arrieta has bone spur in elbow, will likely need surgery

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Jake-Arrieta_060719_usat Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jake Arrieta is taken out of Saturday night's game against the New York Mets by manager Gabe Kapler.

Jake Arrieta didn't have have his best stuff on Saturday night in New York, allowing five runs on 11 hits while hitting a trio of batters in the Phillies 6-5 loss to the Mets. And, according to multiple reports, the Phillies' starter might not be getting his best stuff back any time soon — at least not without first going under the knife.

As first reported by The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, Arrieta (8-7, 4.67 ERA) has been pitching through a bone spur in his right elbow, one that will likely require surgery. And while the team had been hoping that surgery could wait until the offseason, after Arrieta's recent struggles, they're reportedly no longer sure the 33-year-old righty can wait until the fall.

Arrieta has a bone spur in his right elbow, according to a source, and it likely will require surgery to remove it — surgery that those involved had hoped could wait until the end of the season. That delay is no longer certain. It is unclear how much the bone spur has affected Arrieta, who has a 6.63 ERA in his past seven starts.

The potential of an extended absence has wide-ranging ramifications. It could alter how the Phillies, who were already desperate for rotation improvements, approach the July 31 trade deadline. It could sway Arrieta, who has the choice after this season to opt-out of the final year of his $75 million deal, not to test the market and return to the Phillies for $20 million in 2020. Arrieta’s strikeouts are down this season while his walks and home runs allowed have risen. The whole situation is ominous for an aging pitcher.

The 33-year-old, who did not acknowledge the specific injury when asked Saturday to elaborate, sounded concerned.

“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.”  [theathletic.com]

The laboring on Arrieta's part was clearly visible in Saturday night's loss, and after the game, Arrieta apparently told reporters that he "lost feel for everything." And, according to Rosenthal, two of Arrieta's three hit batters came on changeups, a pitch on which he's hit just two batters over the previous 10 years. 

Arrieta was clearly upset after the game, allowing his frustration from an on-field dustup with Todd Frazier resulting from one of those misplaced changeups to boil over in the clubhouse as he told reporters that he planned on "putting a dent in his skull" next time the Mets third baseman had something to say to him. 

As for the lingering injury, this is not a new one for Arrieta. He battled a bone spur in his right elbow during the 2011 season before ultimately being shut down by the Orioles. And that could be the scariest part for the Phillies, who are on the hook to pay Arrieta another $20 million next season, and another $20 million over each the following two seasons, unless Arrieta opts out of the deal. When you look at Arrieta's numbers, the stats paint a disheartening picture, declining each year following his 2015 Cy Young campaign.

As for the team's plans in the short term, Rosenthal believes the Phillies will use the upcoming All-Star break as a chance to "reassess" and decide the best path for Arrieta moving forward. 


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