The Phillies need a big season from Jake Arrieta in 2019.
For the Phillies to compete in 2019 they’ll need a bounce-back season from veteran starter Jake Arrieta. The former Cy Young winner is in year two of a contract that he could void at the end of the season to test free agency once again. To even consider that Arrieta needs to prove he’s healthy after offseason knee surgery.
In his spring training debut, the 32-year-old looks healthy as a horse, which is exactly what the Phillies will need him to be this season. Albeit in spring training, Arrieta threw three perfect innings with four strikeouts against the Twins in Fort Myers.
Arrieta threw 12 pitches in the first inning, 10 in the second, and just 11 in the third to finish the day with 33 pitches, most for strikes.
According to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News Arrieta is adjusting his arm angle back to the three-quarter slot where it was during his best years with Chicago.
Granted its spring training and Arrieta faced the likes of Byron Buxton and Lucas Duda, but the righty’s outing has to be encouraging for the Phillies going in 2019.
General manager Matt Klentak still has the option of adding a veteran pitcher this offseason with Dallas Keuchel sitting on the open market. Despite signing Bryce Harper the Phillies still have financial flexibility, but a deal for Keuchel would likely be a very short-term deal to maintain that flexibility down the road.
This season could also be the final opportunity for the back of the rotation arms Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin to prove they can be more than number four or five starters. Philadelphia’s depth in the back end of the rotation will make it harder to add an arm like Keuchel, and Arrieta’s early success diminishes those chances of signing Keuchel even more.
Philadelphia has proven that you don’t need a superstar rotation to win a World Series, but having a grizzled veteran like Arrieta to pitch game two is crucial.
Arrieta is one of the keys to Philadelphia’s success in 2019, and they can’t afford to lose his experience at the top of the rotation. Hopefully, his first spring outing is a peek into what else is to come this season.