LAKELAND, Fla. – The day started with Jake Arrieta's scheduled side session on a mound back at the Phillies' spring-training home in Clearwater. It ended with manager Gabe Kapler revealing the plan that will get the prized free-agent pitcher to the mound for his Phillies debut Sunday, April 8, against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Kapler said Arrieta will start the Phillies' final Grapefruit League game Tuesday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Spectrum Field and will pitch in either a minor-league exhibition game or a simulated game April 2 in Clearwater to complete his preparation for the start of the season.
"He's all lined up for that start [against the Marlins]," Kapler said Saturday following the Phillies' 4-1 exhibition win over the Detroit Tigers. "We plan on getting 30-plus starts out of Jake. We're really excited about this. He is on board and excited. We're all feeling excited about the plan and he's great on day games."
Arrieta is 36-25 with a 3.28 ERA during day games, which is nearly a half run lower than his ERA during night games. He has also excelled at Citizens Bank Park in the past, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.60 ERA in two career starts. He has allowed just one run on eight hits and struck out 16 batters in 15 innings at his new home ballpark.
Had Arrieta signed early in spring training, he likely would have been the opening-day starter ahead of Aaron Nola, but now he will miss eight games before becoming part of the rotation. The Phillies' top duo of Arrieta and Nola could begin pitching in back-to-back games as soon as Arrieta returns. The way things appear to line up right now, Nola will pitch the season opener Thursday in Atlanta followed by Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta. The winner of the fifth starter battle will likely pitch April 2 in New York against the Mets followed by Nola and Velasquez, which would leave the home opener for Pivetta and the April 7 game at home for the No. 5 starter.
After Arrieta makes his Phillies debut against the Marlins, Nola would likely be on the mound the next night for the start of a series against Cincinnati.