Nola, A Bright Spot in Phillies Season

Nola, A Bright Spot in Phillies Season

With the Phillies having the worst record in baseball, looking for many positives can be difficult. Yet something that has fallen in that category is the pitching of righthander Aaron Nola, especially recently.

This season the 24-year-old Nola is 6-6 with a 3.54 ERA. In his last five games, Nola is 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA. In 35 1/3 innings he has struck out 41 and walked 11. He has allowed three home runs in the last five games, but opponents are hitting just .186 against Nola, with just a .568 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage).

Nola has certainly had his ups and down during his time with the Phillies but he is pitching now the way he did when he was called up from the minors in 2015.

The No. 7 overall selection in the 2014 draft out of LSU, Nola ascended quickly through the Phillies minor league system. He made his Major League debut on July 21, 2015 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Nola went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 2015, but then took a step back last season, mainly due to an elbow problem.

Finally last August, he was placed on the DL with a right elbow strain and missed the remainder of the season. Noa finishe last season 6-9 with a 4.78 ERA.

In his final eight starts of the season Nola was 1-5 with a 9.82 ERA in 33 innings.

While it was a frustrating time, Nola was relieved to hear that he didn’t need surgery on the elbow. It required rest and rehab and Nola insisted during spring training that he was back.

Nola had a rough beginning this season, with a 5.06 ERA in his first six starts. After his third start he was sidelined for a month due to a back injury.

Nola was up and down for the next six starts, but since allowing one earned run in 7 1/3 innings during a 5-1 win over the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on June 22, Nola has been on fire.

While he isn’t known as the hardest of throwers, his fastball is averaging a career-best 92.8 miles per hour, according to fangraphs.com

In Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Milwaukee, he limited the hard-hitting Brewers to two runs and seven hits over six innings, while not figuring in the decision.

Most projections have Nola as being a No. 3 starter, but the Phillies have to wonder if that can be bumped up?

He is an intelligent pitcher who is now throwing with confidence.

Nola has thrown 86 1/3 innings with the Phillies and another 10 1/3 in his two minor league rehab starts this season.

He threw a total of 187 innings in 2015 between his minor league and Phillies duty. The Phillies eventually hope he can be a 200-inning pitcher.

That won’t be necessary this season but each game is a learning experience for a still young pitcher who has rebounding well, one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season. 

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Author: Marc Narducci

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