Tough Ending for Phillies and Aaron Nola

Tough Ending for Phillies and Aaron Nola
Even in an abbreviated 60-game season and an expanded eight-team National League playoff, the Phillies weren’t able to end their postseason drought.
 
They were eliminated officially on the last day of the season with a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The Phillies ended with a 28-32 record.
 
They last made the playoffs and also last had a winning record in 2011. That is nine years and counting. What’s more the Phillies would have made the playoffs had they not lost their finale to Tampa Bay.
 
The Phillies had ace Aaron Nola on the mound, but he continued his late-season swoon. According to baseball-reference.com, Nola has a career record of 7-12 with a 4.28 ERA in September/October. He has an impressive 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings during this span but also a high 1.307 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched). 
 
This September he was 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA, 12.2 strikeouts per 9 innings and a 1.245 WHIP.
 
Nola was actually pitching well in the first half of September. In his first three September starts, he was 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA. In his final three starts, he was 0-2 with a 6.60 ERA
 
If it weren’t for Nola, the Phillies wouldn’t have been in contention. For the abbreviated season, he was 5-5 with a 3.28 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.079 WHIP. Nola even pitched the first two complete games of his career. He had a 2.2 B-WAR, which in 60 games is a strong number for a pitcher. Everything about what he did, with the exception of the final three games shows this was another solid season. It’s just that it was once again been overshadowed by a difficult ending. 
 
According to Baseball-reference.com, here is Nola month by month besides September/October, for his career: 
 
March/April: 8-3, 3.93, 8.5 So/9 in, 1.193 WHIP
May: 11-6, 2.67, 9.9 So/9, 1.094 WHIP
June: 7-7, 4.72, 10.0 So/9, 1.391 WHIP
July: 10-6, 2.85, 10.0 So/9, 1.053 WHIP
August: 15-6, 2.73, 9.0 So/9, 1.015 WHIP
 
Nola, 27, should just be hitting his prime. He was the Phillies first round pick (No. 7 overall) from LSU during the 2011 draft and has certainly lived up to his billing.
 
Will he every approach his lone all-star season in 2018 when he was 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, remains to be seen. That year he finished third in the Cy Young voting.
 
In 2019 he didn’t reach that level, but was still solid, 12-7, 3.87 ERA and pitched more than 200 innings for the second straight year. 
 
As the Phillies begin their to-do list this offseason, Nola’s September woes will be the least of their worries. 
 
Still, one has to wonder if he runs out of gas late in the year and if anything can change that. This year had a toll on everybody, with two spring trainings interrupted by a pandemic. He threw 71.1 innings this season.

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This turned out to be another lost season for the Phillies. The goal is for the team to be in contention next September and that both the Phillies and Nola can do better in the season’s final month.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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