Phillies 2019 season preview: Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta

CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 09: Jake Arrieta (49) of the Phillies delivers a pitch to the plate during the spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies on March 09, 2019 at the Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CLEARWATER, FL - MARCH 09: Jake Arrieta (49) of the Phillies delivers a pitch to the plate during the spring training game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies on March 09, 2019 at the Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 19: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a photo during the Phillies’ photo day on February 19, 2019 at Carpenter Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

What’s Jake Arrieta’s role in 2019?

Arrieta enters the 2019 season as the Phillies number two starter behind Aaron Nola, who nearly joined his teammate as a Cy Young winner last year.

With nine seasons under his belt, Arrieta is currently the lone veteran in a very young pitching staff. The projected starting rotation other than Arrieta is Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin, whose combined age on Opening Day will be 25-years-old, though three of them will celebrate a birthday during the season.

Arrieta has to be the leader on the staff even if he isn’t the best pitcher in 2019. While his public criticism of the team last year wasn’t enjoyed by all, it was a necessary evil to wake up one of the youngest clubs in baseball.

Philadelphia is relying on a healthy Arrieta to take a step forward on the field and be part of the reasoning as to why they haven’t signed free agent Dallas Keuchel. Most of the anti-Keuchel reasoning revolves around the young crop of starters, but if Arrieta hadn’t had his surgery until later in the offseason Keuchel might be in camp.

A strong season from Arrieta likely means another step forward for the Phillies organization as they strive to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Arrieta would be relied upon to take the ball should the Phillies appear in critical playoff games. In nine starts (including two in the World Series) for the Cubs, Arrieta had a 3.08 ERA and held batters to a .189 average.

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