Sep 14, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA;
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Nola (27) reacts after allowing a home run during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park
. (Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)
Aaron Nola – B: the 22-year old rookie made his big league debut just 13 months after the Phillies selected him with the 7th overall pick in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft. He was never expected to be an ace, but he was expected to be a valuable member of the starting rotation quickly, and for years to come.
The “quickly” part materialized, and judging by the results, so will the “valuable rotation member for years to come” part materialize. In his first outing on July 21st for a highly publicized start at Citizens Bank Park vs the Tampa Bay Rays, Nola electrified the home crowd with six strong innings over which he allowed just one earned run on five hits, with a 6/1 K:BB ratio.
Unfortunately for Nola, the Phillies themselves were shut out, and he lost his big league debut by a 1-0 score. Such are the pitfalls of playing for a bad team with one of the worst offensive lineups in the game. However, he never seemed to let anything frustrate him. Nola followed that one up with a strong outing at Wrigley Field to beat the host Chicago Cubs for his first big league win.
Three of his final five starts in the month of September were less-than-stellar, and he was possibly tiring from the experience of his first lengthy season. The club finally shut him down after an outing in Washington on September 26th, letting him leave with a good taste in his mouth. Nola shut the host Nationals out, scattering six hits across five innings in which he struck out five and walked no one.
In the end, Nola went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.197 WHIP mark. He allowed 74 hits in 77.2 innings over 13 starts, with a 68/19 K:BB ratio. Unless the club decides to shell out money for a starting pitcher in the free agent market, Nola may end up serving as the #1 starter in the Phillies 2016 rotation.
He may not be suited for that ‘Ace’ role in the long-term. However, he will be learning by competing against the best, and gaining the mental toughness that it will take to continue succeeding at this level. Nola has the talent, and now it’s just about him staying healthy, gaining experience, and continuing his development.
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