Eleven days following the Phillies signing of Jake Arrieta the 2015 CY Young winner made his first spring start of the 2018 season
One of the most anticipated Spring Training Games in recent years for the Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta finally took the mound against the Detroit Tigers in Grapefruit League action.
The start did not go exactly as many fantasized as Arrieta went two innings with two strikeouts, but also allowing two runs and three hits, featuring a home run to Miguel Cabrera.
The game started out well for Arrieta; facing JaCoby Jones, Arrieta set the leadoff hitter down on three pitches including great location with a 91 MPH two-seamer that came back across the plate.
Arrieta proceeded to follow that at bat with an almost identical one to Jeimer Candelario, who he struck out on five pitches. Once again showing good control on off speed pitches Arrieta finished off the at bat with a filthy 81 MPH dropping curveball.
The next batter would not be set down so easily. Former MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera homered off Arrieta to right field on a fastball that did not quite get enough of the outside corner. This at bat should not cause too much worry for Phillies fans as this was the most dominant hitter of the past decade facing a man who has not seen a batter since October 18th.
Arrieta would finish off the inning with a fly ball easily handled by Odubel Herrera.
The second inning did not go as well as the first; it started with a long fly ball to left field that was tracked down by utility man Roman Quinn which was followed by a sliding outfield catch by right fielder Pedro Florimon. Arrieta would have some difficulty getting out of what appeared to be a quick inning.
Christin Stewart started the two out rally with a line drive single down the right field line. Then Arrieta who is known to lead the league in wild pitches threw a curveball catcher Andrew Knapp could not handle.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias would then rope a double to left allowing Arrieta’s second earned run of the day to cross the plate. Third baseman Jesmuel Valentin would get Arrieta out of the jam however with a nice diving play at the hot corner.
Arrieta would go two innings and 31 pitches in his first start of the season. His fastball topped at 94 MPH and the veteran righty controlled it well. He seemed to have some nerves moving rapidly on the mound.
The start should not be taken to seriously as this was a start for Arrieta to work on control and just get a feel for a Major League game again. He had excellent movement and solid velocity for a man who has not pitched against live hitters in five months.
It is not publically determined if Arrieta will be ready for the first start of the regular season.
While the results were not what most wanted the little things went very well for the ace. Aaron Nola and Arrieta will be a dominant one-two punch (ninth best in the league via MLB.com) for the upcoming season and more to follow. The question all fans hope to have seven months from now: which one pitches in the NL Wild Card Game?