As potential trade fit Andrew Cashner heads to Boston, Phillies need Jake Arrieta to conquer elbow problem


All eyes will be on Jake Arrieta as the Phillies close out a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Arrieta will be making his first start since revealing that he has been hampered recently by a bone spur in his right elbow. An X-ray on Friday confirmed the presence of the spur.

Arrieta intends on pitching through the issue and having it addressed surgically in the offseason.

Of course, that’s incumbent on his being able to tolerate the discomfort and pitch effectively.

“It’s not something that I can’t get through,” Arrieta said of the discomfort. “There are days that are better than others.

“The biggest thing is the effectiveness. If I’m out there and I’m costing the team a game, we’re going to address that.

“I think it’s something that I can manage, that I can work with and try to get through the rest of the season. The last thing I want to do is shut it down now and have the surgery now and miss the remainder of the season. We’re still trying to do some special things this year. I think I still have a lot to offer the team and can still help us win.”

Arrieta has some history with bone spurs in the elbow. He had one in 2011. It was removed surgically after the season.

It’s not uncommon for a pitcher to pitch with a bone spur. The problem can restrict the extension a pitcher gets upon release of the ball. That last little bit of extension, or “finish,” helps a pitcher locate his pitches with precision. It also helps with late movement. Arrieta has lacked both over the last few weeks; he has recorded a 6.63 ERA in his last seven starts. He had poor location in his last start last Saturday night at Citi Field and hit three New York Mets hitters.

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto believes Arrieta can pitch through the elbow issue.

“For me, he has been effective,” Realmuto said. “He’s shown spurts of being effective. I can tell when he gets to the 80-90 pitch mark, he really starts to feel it and he loses some control. He’s had multiple starts where he’s gone five, six innings, one run and then kind of imploded the last inning because he loses feel for the baseball a little bit.

“I’ve known his elbow has been hurting a little longer than most so it’s tough to see. He’s been effective but he can’t quite finish the way he should be able to. In his last start you could tell he had no feel for the baseball at all so I’m not sure it’s getting any better.”

The Phillies have serious issues in their starting rotation and they have shown their ugly head throughout the team’s six-week slide from first place to third place in the National League East. It goes without saying that the Phils need Arrieta to pitch better than he has recently. The team is also looking for starting pitching help. The Phils aren’t inclined to dig into a thin group of prospects to make a deal (see story), but would be willing to add a marginal upgrade at the right cost or a more noteworthy starter who might cost less in prospects because he carries a high salary. Arizona's Zack Greinke would fit that description. 

One potential upgrade went off the board Saturday when the Orioles dealt veteran right-hander Andrew Cashner to the Red Sox. The Phillies had expressed an interest in Cashner.

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