After another poor outing from Aaron Nola, the Phillies are in a very tough position with their star player.
Throughout this offseason, the Phillies started to go all in on winning, and they emphasized on the offense. Of course, the team expected the holes to still be addressed in the pitching role but that can always be dealt with at the trade deadline.
Yet, they couldn’t have expected Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola to suffer such a drop back the following year. Each start this year for Nola it has been a guessing game of who will appear, the ace or the poor placement pitcher who we have seen too much of this year.
Through 15 starts Nola has a career-worst 4.89 ERA and 1.506 WHIP, and is on pace to allow nearly 30 home runs. He projects to strikeout 40 fewer batters and walk more than 70 opponents for the first time in his career.
The Phillies are in need of starting pitching, we knew that already. Although the team may be setting themselves up for a whole rehaul of the pitching rotation. The top Phillies pitcher this year has been Zach Eflin who is a good third or fourth starter on a contending team. For now, the Phillies have no resources in the minors that will be coming up any time soon, so what does the team do?
The biggest part of this equation is Aaron Nola, each start I trick myself into thinking “It only takes one start to get back”, but each solid start has been muddled with bad performances. Nola has been given a lot of excuses from the media on his poor start, all fair due to his season last year, but the time is running out.
The Phillies need an ace, which leads to another big task to GM Matt Klentak and coach Gabe Kapler. How patient are they going to be with Aaron Nola? Some viable options are letting Nola work out of this, Gabe Kapler has shown a lot of faith in Nola so far which could allow him giving freedom to the pitcher.
This could be seen as a development stage for his progress as a pitcher, but the team is in win-now mode. They don’t have time for development, which could lead to the team moving him down in the rotation. No, not right now of course, but if the club does make the anticipated moves at the deadline, we could see them giving favor to a new pitcher coming in.
This could be a good thing for Nola because it would allow a pressure off his shoulders similar to Rhys Hoskins. We see this year how well Hoskins has improved with protection in the line-up and we could see a similar case be made for Aaron Nola.
The Phillies will need Nola, there is no way around it. If Philadelphia is truly going to be considered a threat to make the World Series or even make the playoffs they will need their ace. Aaron Nola has an opportunity to rebound off course but the time is ticking.
If he doesn’t start regaining form from his performance last year then it may be too late to even make a push. The team needs to make sure they are making all decisions with this pitching staff based off this year, not would could have been.