Aaron Nola can deliver a big-time performance
The odds couldn’t have been stacked much higher against the Phillies Thursday afternoon. They just lost their fourth straight game in gut-wrenching fashion Wednesday. Three-time Cy Young winner and the favorite for the award this year, Max Scherzer, was on the mound aiming to finish off the sweep. The Phillies desperately needed a gem from Aaron Nola, their own Cy Young contender. Boy did they get one.
Nola delivered not only one of the best starts of his season, but one of the best of his career. He picked up his 15th win of the season with eight shutout innings, giving up just five hits and one walk while striking out nine batters.
Nola was cruising through the eighth, looking like he could pitch his first complete game. Adam Eaton then doubled and Trea Turner drew a full-count walk to put Bryce Harper at the plate. All Harper needed was one swing of the bat to put the Nationals on top. Gabe Kapler left Nola in, and with his 102nd pitch of the game, he struck Harper out with a 95 MPH fastball.
Nola faced the tough task of stopping a four-game losing streak against one of the best pitchers in the game. He did so, pitching up to and above Scherzer’s caliber. He lowered his season ERA to 2.13 and will almost surely build upon his lead in Baseball-Reference wins above replacement. If you weren’t already confident in Nola pitching in a wild-card game or Game 7, you better be now.