Phillies 2019 season preview: Starting pitcher Aaron Nola
What’s Aaron Nola’s role in 2019?
Aaron Nola will once again be called upon to be the ace of Philadelphia’s rotation, a role some never thought he could live up to. Remember, former manager Pete Mackanin stated he though Nola was a solid number three starter at one point in time.
Nola will likely be the Phillies opening day starter on March 28 against the defending division champion Atlanta Braves at 3:05 p.m. He’ll face a powerful lineup that’ll likely feature Ronald Acuna, Josh Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, Ender Inciarte, Freddie Freeman, and potentially Phillies killer Brian McCann, who rejoined his former club early in the offseason.
That’s a tall task for Nola on opening day, but he’s proven capable of handling Atlanta, holding a career 2.09 ERA in 12 starts against them.
Nola had immense success against National League East clubs last year, and his 2.30 ERA against Atlanta was actually his worst ERA against others in the division. He pitched to the tune of a 2.11 ERA last year in 19 starts.
While Nola isn’t known to be a vocal leader or even be grizzled enough to be a veteran, he’s expected to lead a still young pitching staff alongside Jake Arrieta.
While Arrieta better fits the role of a grizzled vet who will help guide the back of the rotation, there’s no reason Nola can’t lend a hand to Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin as they each enter make or break seasons.
Hopefully, Nola’s success carries over into 2019 where he can lead Philadelphia to his first-ever playoff start and Philadelphia’s return to the playoffs after a seven-year drought.