Was Jake Arrieta right to criticize Phillies after embarrassing sweep?

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 03: Pitcher Jake Arrieta #49 and catcher Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies cover their mouths with their gloves while they converse on the mound against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the six inning at AT&T Park on June 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 03: Pitcher Jake Arrieta #49 and catcher Jorge Alfaro #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies cover their mouths with their gloves while they converse on the mound against the San Francisco Giants in the bottom of the six inning at AT&T Park on June 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta dug into his teammates after being swept by the Giants, criticizing their offensive performance and the defensive shifts.

After the Phillies lost to the Giants Sunday afternoon to complete a three-game sweep, Jake Arrieta was pissed. He went into the locker room visibly angry, telling reporters that it was a “horse-shit series”. The veteran pulled no punches, criticizing both the defense and offense in many aspects.

Arrieta’s tirade capped off what was a frustrating series. Even if Arrieta was the only one to verbalize his frustrations in such a negative way, he certainly wasn’t the only one feeling that way. What he said is finally getting people to look into the team’s flaws.

The most obvious issue the team had over the weekend was on offense. They went 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position and hit just .160 overall in the series. The only run came off the bat of Arrieta with his solo home run Sunday. The team faced two rookie starting pitchers, yet Arrieta’s run was the only one they managed.

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This weekend was just the boiling point of an issue that has plagued the team for weeks. They have scored just five runs in their last five games, and one of those runs shouldn’t have counted when Maikel Franco failed to touch home plate Thursday against the Dodgers. In the last two weeks, only the Athletics have a lower wRC+ than the Phillies. In this time frame, they have a .213/.274/.339 line with 33 runs scored, the second-fewest among all 30 teams.

Several players who were supposed to be key cogs in the offense are struggling recently. Rhys Hoskins had a terrible May before breaking his jaw. Aaron Altherr, who will now play every day with Hoskins out, is hitting just .129 with 17 strikeouts the last two weeks. Even Odubel Herrera has faltered, posting a .180/.212/.240 line since losing his on-base streak May 20.

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Arrieta also took aim at the team’s defensive shifts. In the sixth inning Sunday, Scott Kingery was lined up the middle against Alen Hanson, who hit a weak dribbler towards where Kingery would have been in a normal defensive alignment. Due to this, Kingery could not make the play at first, leaving runners at first and second with one out. The inning snowballed from there as the Giants scored five runs.

This one play displayed a larger trend: shifting is hurting the team more than it is helping it. There are plenty of examples of this happening throughout the season, as Ben Harris of the Athletic dives into. As a whole, shifting has cost the team 11 runs according to Sports Info Solutions.

The Dodgers are the only other team who have been hurt by shifting.

The players on the field are not used to playing in the shift. Kingery is already not used to playing shortstop. It’s tough enough to learn the position, and it’s even tougher when he has to learn to play it from all over the infield. While players in the minors will learn how to play with shifts before coming to Philadelphia, those already here who didn’t deal with it last season are learning on the fly.

Arrieta did not spare himself from criticism either, stating that he should not have allowed that many runs. It was the second-most runs he has allowed in any start and the most he has allowed in one inning all year.

Manager Gabe Kapler, who has been at the forefront of using shifts, met with Arrieta after he made his comments. Kapler said the team will analyze how they use shifts to make sure both the pitchers and fielders feel comfortable with them.

Next: Phillies Prospect Report: Sanchez lights out

The Phillies have to make a serious turnaround with more tough series coming up. If they keep playing the way they have the last two weeks, it will not go well for them.

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