Bryce Harper and Aaron Nola were the driving force behind the Phillies’ win Saturday afternoon. Can this turn things around for the two stars?
The consensus about the 2019 Phillies was that if they were going to make the playoffs, it would be on the backs of Aaron Nola and Bryce Harper, among others. However, the two have struggled to start the year, leaving it to the rest of the team to make up the difference.
Coming into Saturday, Nola had a 4.86 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in nine starts. He strung together a few good starts before lasting just three innings against the Brewers Monday night, giving up three runs on five hits and three walks.
Meanwhile, Harper had a .222/.363/.430 line and 109 OPS+ in 44 games. He leads the league in both walks with 33 and strikeouts with 60. His overall numbers aren’t bad but certainly not up to the standard his contract set.
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Both players showed Saturday against the Rockies why they are being counted on to help bring Philadelphia back to the playoffs. Nola gave up one run in six innings, allowing one walk and eight hits. He struck out 12 batters, easily his most of the season and tying a career-high.
As previously mentioned, Nola was starting to look like his former self on the mound before his rough start Monday night.
Nola’s start Saturday was arguably his best of the season and should erase the memory of his previous clunker. Nola will face another challenge in his next start against the Cubs.
Harper made an impact in Friday night’s win with a two-run double, his first RBI since May 7 and just his seventh of the month. However, he still struck out two times, adding to his league-leading total.
Saturday was a much different story for Harper as he was the team’s only offense. He hit a solo home run in the first inning 466 feet at 114 mph off the bat into Ashburn Alley, the longest by any Phillie at Citizens Bank Park since Statcast’s inception.
Harper finished his day going 2-for-3 with the home run, a double, a walk, and a strikeout. It was his first multi-hit game since May 7 and just his second since his five-hit game on April 19, as pointed out by Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic.
Harper now has a hit in four straight games, including at least one extra-base hit in three of them. He has struck out in every single one, so he hasn’t been perfect, but any positive signs for him should be welcomed.