Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola is on track to start Opening Day
For now, right-hander Aaron Nola appears to be the on the right path to be the likely Opening Day starter for the Philadelphia Phillies, a title the 2018 All-Star has held in each of the previous two seasons.
Monday evening, Nola made his first summer camp intrasquad scrimmage appearance, exactly one week after joining the rest of the team. Tossing 47 pitches, the five-year veteran retired eight of his first nine batters faced and went on to face five more, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury. Overall, Nola allowed two hits and two weeks while striking out one.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi says he is “very pleased” with how Nola fared.
“Aaron threw the ball pretty well. I thought he lost his command a little bit at the end, which is probably normal,” Girardi told reporters after the outing. “It probably comes just like any other spring training, they start to get a little fatigued in the end, but I thought he was pretty sharp.”
“He went through the lineup pretty quick in the first nine outs; I think he got nine outs in two innings. So, I was very pleased.”
Nola’s outing was far from conventional; he recorded more than three outs in his first two innings to drive up his pitch count. The Athletic’s Meghan Montemurro says in the first two frames, Nola looked sharp, throwing strikes and creating weak contact, before struggling in the third.
Not to mention, the Phillies fielded an infield behind him consisting of coaches, with players largely were limited to just the DH role in the scrimmage. Among the coaches who took the field included outfield coordinator Andy Abad, first base coach Paco Figueroa, and assistant hitting coach Pedro Guerrero. Even star outfielder Bryce Harper manned the hot corner after convincing Girardi to let him do so.
The Phillies look to keep stretching Nola out, with his pitch count reaching the mid 60s in his next outing, which could be the July 18 exhibition opener opposite Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
If all keeps going well, Girardi could soon tab Nola as his Opening Day starter.
“Girardi has not officially named Nola his opening night starter because he wants to see how the next week or so of workouts unfolds,” Salisbury writes. “But Girardi did acknowledge that Nola could indeed be the opening night starter if all continues to go well.”