Phillies: Can Aaron Nola lead team to second-half success?
Aaron Nola pitched one of his best games as a member of the Phillies Tuesday night, displaying how much of a factor he can be.
When Aaron Nola was at his best in 2018, you could pretty much pencil in a win for the Phillies. He had a 17-6 record, and the team was 22-11 in games he started. Philadelphia was 58-71 with someone besides Nola on the mound, indicating just how much of a difference he has made.
Nola has not provided the same consistency this year with his ERA reaching 7.45 in April. His ERA was 4.89 less than three weeks ago, a far cry from his 2018 ERA of 2.37.
Before Nola’s last three starts, Philadelphia was 9-6 with him on the mound. The team still won more than they lost, but not at the same pace of two of every three games like 2018. Plus, the team won even when Nola wasn’t at his best, with four wins when Nola allowed three or more runs.
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However, Nola has turned a corner during his last three starts. He took an undeserved loss June 21 against the Marlins, allowing two runs, one of which was unearned, while striking out ten batters in eight innings. His next start June 27 was the best of his career in terms of Game Score Version 2 as he struck out ten batters and allowed just one hit and one walk in seven innings.
While Nola’s best start came on June 27, his most recent one on Tuesday may have been the most impactful. He opened up a crucial three-game series with the Braves with eight shutout innings, striking out eight while walking three.
Nola’s ERA now stands at 3.89, the lowest it has been since Opening Day. He is trending in the right direction with a 3.11 ERA since the calendar turned to May. If things continue this way, his numbers should be much more in line with what we’re used to by the end of the season.
Thanks to the Phillies’ poor performance in June, they now have a lot of ground to cover if they have any chance of making the playoffs. Nola pitching like the Cy Young contender he was last year would help these chances significantly by handing the offense winnable games. They would then have to give Nola enough support, but that’s another matter entirely.
Nola played a considerable part in Philadelphia’s improved record last year. Can he continue his upward trajectory and lead the Phillies back into the upper echelon of the league in the second half?