Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta is dealing with a serious injury, the club confirmed Sunday. According to comments by manager Gabe Kapler, Arrieta revealed he had been pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow in the days leading up to his scheduled start against the Mets on Saturday night. Now, it looks like the Phillies will have the righty undergo further tests before they determine whether or not he can continue pitching this season, a process that may ultimately result in a season-ending surgical procedure.
Despite Arrieta raising the issue prior to his latest outing, he still went to the mound for 4 1/3 innings on Saturday. Things went about as well as could be expected from a player battling a bone spur in his pitching elbow: He allowed five earned runs on 11 hits and struck out four of 26 batters, permitting the Mets to take the lead en route to their eventual 6-5 win.
In the bottom of the fifth, for reasons that Arrieta later claimed were due to the injury, he followed a strikeout to Michael Conforto with a hit-by-pitch to Todd Frazier, prompting a heated reaction from Frazier that nearly ended in a benches-clearing dispute between the teams. Arrieta added fuel to that particular fire after the game, telling reporters, “Frazier’s not happy about it, he can come and see me. I’ll put a dent in his skull.” (“He can say what he wants,” Frazier responded, “I’m just sick of getting hit.”)
Bone spur issues and allegedly unintentional plunkings notwithstanding, it’s been a rough season for the 33-year-old hurler. Leaving Saturday’s loss, he’s 8-7 through 18 starts with a 4.67 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, and 7.1 SO/9, the worst output the Phillies have seen from him since he inked a three-year, $75 million deal with them in 2018. Since the start of June, his numbers have only spiraled downwards; he’s given up 3+ runs in every outing but one and pitched to an unsightly 5.65 ERA over just five starts.
If there’s any hope for Arrieta’s quick return to the mound, it’s that he previously pitched through a bone spur in his right elbow during his rookie campaign with the Orioles in 2010. He later underwent surgery to remove the obstruction in the summer of 2011 and pitched successfully upon his return in 2012, though it took another two seasons before he started hitting career-high marks.