I’d imagine I’m not unique among Cubs fans who still have a soft spot for Jake Arrieta. The way he carried himself, and the EXTREME way he broke out into such a critical player for the most important Cubs team we’ll ever know … he’s just gonna be one of those forever Cubs.
So, while I follow all NL playoff contenders with some closeness because of the potential impact on the Cubs, I follow Arrieta’s time with the Phillies a little more closely than most. And it’s been a really rough stretch, both in the results this year, and also in the health of his elbow.
For those unaware, Arrieta was earlier this year diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow, which causes numbness and pain, and has a negative impact on his performance. Surgery would likely be successful for relief, but it would also end his season. He and the Phillies elected to have him pitch through the bone spur – deciding that 85% of Arrieta was better than a fill-in from AAA, as manager Gabe Kapler put it – but after weeks and weeks of going through it, I’m not so sure Arrieta is going to be able to continue.
After last night’s ineffective outing, Arrieta admitted that the elbow hurts every day (NBC), and for the first time hedged a bit when asked if he was going to keep pitching: “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.”
Either way, Arrieta was not lined up to face the Cubs this week, but now I wonder if he’s going to opt for surgery sooner rather than later. On the season, the 33-year-old righty has posted a 4.64 ERA over 135.2 innings (about 6% worse than league average by ERA-), but since early July, when word of the bone spur came out, Arrieta has posted a 5.34 ERA, and hasn’t gone deeper than 5.2 innings in any start.
It’s a bummer for a frayed Phillies rotation, and obviously for Arrieta, who has one more year on his deal with the Phillies. I understand the competitiveness there, but I kinda just hope Arrieta opts for the surgery now so that he can have something closer to a full, normal offseason building up for 2020.