How much fun was it to watch Aaron Nola this year? After saying for several years that he had the potential to be an ace, he went out there and showed that he’s more than just a solid No. 3 starter.
In 33 starts this year, Nola finished with a 2.37 ERA, 17-6 record, 0.975 WHIP, 3.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 3.01 fielding-independent pitching. His 10.5 pitching wins above replacement led the National League and were the most by a Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1972. In fact, no Phillie besides Carlton has been more valuable than Nola in over a century.
Nola earned his first of what should be many All-Star appearances. He finished in a comfortable third place in NL Cy Young voting behind a deserving Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer. Nola even wound up receiving 16 points in NL MVP voting, finishing 13th overall.
With this strong season, Nola has now put himself into the conversation as one of the best pitchers in baseball, just two years after his career was in serious doubt. When talking about the aces in the league, Nola should be one of the first names brought up.
Nola will easily be one of the more positive things to look forward to this year. The team will be able to bank on him delivering a strong start every fifth day, just like he did in 2018. At his age, he still has plenty of time to improve and get even better on the mound.