Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola has been tremendous this season, but has he been good enough to receive National League Cy Young votes?
Aaron Nola has easily been the best pitcher in the Phillies rotation this season, leading the way with a 3.12 ERA, 3.0 fWAR, and a 1.18 WHIP. His 112.1 innings are tied for the team lead with Jeremy Hellickson, who is now an Oriole.
It’s hard for Nola to get any recognition nationally because he pitches for the worst team in all of baseball. However, that may be starting to change.
Matt Snyder of CBS Sports broke down the National League Cy Young race as it stands with just under two months left in the season. The favorites were obvious: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Zack Greinke.
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Farther down the list, one unusual name popped up: Nola. This is what Snyder had to say:
"The former first rounder from LSU is on fire right now. It’s been an extended stretch, too. In his last nine starts, he’s 5-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 70 strikeouts against 17 walks in 61 1/3 innings. In those nine starts, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs or worked fewer than six innings. If he stays this hot, he’s got a shot to crack the top five."
The top five of Cy Young voting? That is no small feat, especially considering the team Nola is on. On the other hand, there is definitely a strong case for Nola to earn Cy Young votes,
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Nola is in the top ten among National League pitchers in several categories. He is second in home runs per nine innings (0.801), fourth in fielding-independent pitching (3.12), fifth in bWAR (3.6), seventh in ERA and ERA+ (3.12, 136), eighth in xFIP (3.55), ninth in WHIP and strikeouts per nine (1.184, 9.374), and tenth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.546).
Where Nola lacks is in the counting stats because he is tied for last in innings pitched among qualified pitchers. This does matter to awards voters because they value accumulated success as much, perhaps even more, than rate stats where Nola does excel.
It is what may keep him out of the top five or even Cy Young voting altogether.
Despite that, for Nola to be considered in the same tier of pitchers as Robbie Ray, Jacob DeGrom, and Stephen Strasburg is an achievement in his own right. This could be the start of a long string of Cy Young contention for Nola.