'Furious' Jake Arrieta blasts Philadelphia Phillies' defensive shifts, 'accountability'
SAN FRANCISCO — Jake Arrieta had been off the mound for close to two hours on Sunday, but the frustrations of a 6-1 loss to the Giants had failed to dissipate.
“Overall it’s just a really horse[bleep] series,” Arrieta said after the Phillies scored just one run in a three-game sweep by San Francisco at AT&T Park. “Really bad. Really bad.”
Arrieta described himself as “furious” as he ripped the team’s data-driven defensive shifts, criticized Scott Kingery for not going to second base on an infield grounder, and said the Phillies need to hold themselves accountable after he allowed five runs in six innings.
“We need to have an accountability check,” Arrieta said. “This is a key moment in our season. We had a pretty good April and a pretty good May. June isn’t starting out so well.”
The Phillies’ only run in the series came on Arrieta’s leadoff homer in the third. The lineup seemed to lose its identity this week, and the loss of Rhys Hoskins — even with his struggles last month — appears to be tough to overcome.
Arrieta faced the minimum number of batters to record his first 16 outs. He was cruising as he induced double plays in three straight innings. And then the tide of the game seemed to change with one out in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez, the Giants’ No. 8 hitter, dropped a single into center three pitches after Arrieta knocked him to the dirt with a high-and-tight sinker. Then shift happened.
Alen Hanson followed Hernandez with a weak grounder to the left side. Kingery was shaded closer to second base in double-play depth and had to charge the play. He said he was caught in between tossing it to second or firing to first. His throw to first was late and Hanson was safe. It was a tough play, Kingery said. A rally started.
Joe Panik followed Hanson with an RBI single to the right side that went through a hole created by second baseman Cesar Hernandez being shaded closer to the base. Buster Posey then ripped an RBI single to center and Andrew McCutchen lofted a three-run homer that landed just over the right-field wall. Arrieta finished the inning, and his outing, which started so promising, was suddenly over. He said a pitcher losing an out to a defensive shift is “about as deflating as it can get.”
“We’re the worst in the league with shifts. So we need to change that,” Arrieta said. “Copy the best. I don’t know. That’s not my job. Use your eyes make and adjustment and be better. We need some accountability all the way around. Everybody, top to bottom.”
Sports Info Solutions, a scouting service based in Allentown that provides data to MLB teams, ranks the Phillies last in the “Shift Runs Saved” statistic. Before Sunday, defensive shifts had cost the Phillies 11 runs, according to SIS. They are one of only two teams in baseball to have a negative rating.
“It’s based on where hitters tend to hit the ball,” Kingery said of the team’s shifts. “A lot of the time it works and some of the times it kind of catches you off guard. A lot of the times when a shift is being beat, it’s not a very hard-hit ball. It’s getting jammed or off the end of the bat. We’re playing a numbers game.”
Gabe Kapler, aware of Arrieta’s frustrations, sought out the pitcher before the team flew to Chicago, where the Phillies open a three-game series against the Cubs on Tuesday. The manager described Arrieta as a “passionate individual.” Arrieta’s critique of Kingery, Kapler said, came from a “moment of frustration” and the pitcher “really supports Scott.” Everyone, Kapler said, needs to be accountable.
“He cares a lot about winning and I think this series [ticked] him off. It [ticked] me off, too. It was not our best series,” Kapler said. “He and I are going to spend some time talking about how we position defenders behind him. We are flexible and reasonable as it relates to the way we position defenders and we will be responsive to the optimal positioning based on our spray charts and based on where guys hit the ball and we’ll also be responsive to our players, their needs and the best way to position defenders behind them individually so that they’re comfortable and they make their pitches.
“Jake and I will discuss that internally. We’re probably not going to discuss how exactly that’s going to go down right away, but it’s certainly something that he and I will address together. A ton of respect for his leadership characteristics, what he brings to that clubhouse. I know why he responded the way he did and we talked it through like men. And we will continue to do that.”