The Phillies head into this weekend series in Washington, DC  a half game behind the Nationals and 3.5 games out of 1st place in NL East standings but no thanks to veteran pitcher Jake Arrieta.  Arrieta has allowed a home run and at least three runs in four straight starts while the Phillies have lost three of those four games.  On the season, Arrieta has compiled a 5-5 record with 3.42 ERA and his worst Strikeouts Per Nine Innings since the 2010 season (6.2).

USA Today Baseball Writer Steve Gardner joined Josh Hennig on Thursday and talked about why Arrieta has struggled in his recent starts:

"With Arietta his problem now is that he’s just not missing bats as frequently as he has in the past. You look at his strikeout rate throughout his career, even when he was younger and in Baltimore, he was still striking out seven-eight batters per nine innings. When he came over to the Cubs and had those great seasons, including the Cy Young (Award Winning) season, he was up over a strikeout per inning. Last year he was about almost a strikeout per inning, now he’s down to 6.2 per Nine Innings. That reduced strikeout rate for him is one of the things making it more difficult because I don’t think he has the confidence in the defense behind him and he’s not making his pitches as well. The walks are still about the same as last year, but again, when those ground balls are getting through and the shifts are not benefiting him, I think that sticks in his mind and that’s got to be something that is maybe weighing on him because he doesn’t have the swing and miss stuff he has had in previous years."on in the season."

Hear what Gardner had to say about Odubel Herrera hot bat, who the Phillies could target before the NBA Trade Deadline, Yankees Pitching Staff, and Mike Trout's future