The Phillies 1st round selection in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of LSU, Nola was promoted to the big leagues a little more than a year later, delivering 13 effective starts out of the rotation in the 2015 season.
He entered the 2016 season with lofty expectations, and over his first dozen starts he largely met them. With the exception of one blowout loss to the Washington Nationals in his third start, Nola was cruising into early June.
Over those first 10 weeks of the regular season, Nola fashioned a 5-4 record with a 2.65 ERA. He allowed just 62 hits over his first 78 innings, with an 85/15 K:BB ratio.
And then trouble began.
On June 11th in Washington, Nola ended a string of nine consecutive outings of at least six innings each. He was rolled for four earned runs on seven hits over just 3.2 innings that day.
It began a horrible stretch of eight starts, only one of which showed him to be effective. During the period between June 11th and July 28th, Nola went 1-5 and the team lost seven of his eight starts.
He allowed 54 hits in 33 innings during that stretch with a 9.82 ERA. As with Eflin, something was clearly wrong.
Nola was finally shut down with what was diagnosed as a right elbow sprain. He recently began a throwing program, but has not yet tried to throw from a mound.
The team will slowly progress him back to that point during the off-season, but it remains an unknown how he will respond. If the elbow responds favorably, he will continue to work out and prepare for spring training.
However, there remains the possibility that it will not respond favorably. If this goes wrong, we could be talking Tommy John surgery.
That worst-case scenario would mean that Nola is lost for the entire 2017 season, and we wouldn’t see him in Phillies pinstripes again until spring of 2018 when he would still be just 24 years of age.