The hits kept coming for the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend.
And not in a good way — even though they were playing some of their best baseball of the summer.
Just days after reliever David Robertson underwent Tommy John surgery, the Phillies announced that Jake Arrieta will be shut down for the rest of the season. He will have elbow surgery to remove a bone spur later this month.
Arrieta had pitched with the bone spur for over a month after alerting reporters of the injury in early July.
His numbers this season were nowhere near the Cy Young levels the Phillies had hoped for after signing him last year. Arrieta went 8-8 this season with a 4.64 ERA — his highest mark since 2013.
It was a gutsy effort, regardless.
The Phillies needed Arrieta to eat innings for a starting rotation that was in shambles behind Aaron Nola.
Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta were demoted to the bullpen while Vince Velasquez continued to struggle with inconsistencies.
Of the six Phillies pitchers to make 10 starts this year, Nola was the only arm to have an ERA lower than 3.60.
It forced GM Matt Klentak to scramble in late-July as he added veterans Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas to the mix, but Arrieta’s absence creates another void in the rotation.
Manager Gabe Kapler decided to give Eflin another chance and reinstate his starting status on Saturday night against the San Diego Padres.
While he looked good in his first three innings of work, helping the Phillies get out to a 3-0 lead, he imploded in the fourth.
Eflin allowed three, two-out runs that included two-strike hits by the opposing pitcher, Dinelson Lamet, and center fielder Manuel Margot.
Pivetta proceeded to allow two runs in 1.1 innings of work as the Phillies’ four-game win streak ended in a 5-3 loss.
Saturday, Aug. 24 against the Miami Marlins will be the next time Arrieta’s spot in the rotation is up to start. As it stands, the Phillies have yet to list a probable starter.
If Eflin gets another chance, he’ll have to do much, much more to instill any sort of confidence within the Phillies organization.
There is still promise that he’ll get there, though.
Over the first two months of the season, Eflin was the Phillies’ best starter while Nola struggled with some early issues.
In his first 14 starts of the season, the 25-year-old sported a 2.83 ERA despite a 6-7 record.
As the season wound into summer, though, Eflin was having issues going deep into games while he complained that his body felt “heavy.”
For a younger pitcher who had never pitched more than 128 innings in a single season, that’s common when encountering a newer, heavier workload.
He got past the fifth inning just twice in his next six starts as he went 1-4 with a sky-high 10.45 ERA — which led to his demotion to the bullpen in late July.
With time running out and the standings plenty tight, the Phillies don’t have many other options outside of Eflin.
If they want to snag one of those National League Wild Card spots in October, they’ll need the Eflin of April and May.