Phillies: Right-hander Aaron Nola named Opening Day starter
By Matt Rappa
Phillies ace Aaron Nola will start on Opening Day, July 24 against the Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies manager Joe Girardi has made it official. Right-hander Aaron Nola will start on Opening Day, for the third straight season, when the Phillies take on the Miami Marlins this Friday for the first of 60 games in the 2020 season.
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In doing so, Nola will be the first Phillies pitcher to start in three straight season openers since Hall of Famer Roy Halladay did so from 2010 to 2012. No Phillies pitcher has appeared in four straight since fellow Hall of Famer Steve Carlton (1977-86); Nola may get the chance to start in four straight Opening Days in 2021 against the Atlanta Braves.
There had been some doubt in summer camp as to whether Nola would be able to take the mound early in the season, given he was late to report due to COVID-19 protocols. However, the right-hander seemed to settle in with speed and efficiency; his recent exhibition start against the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals — tossing five scoreless innings — only confirmed that.
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While Girardi has penned in Nola for the nod on Friday, beyond that, the rotation order is anything but certain. Here is what we know:
- Vince Velasquez will receive the starting nod in the team’s exhibition finale Monday evening, away against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He has recently impressed in summer camp and is competing for a spot in the rotation.
- Zack Wheeler‘s wife is expecting this week and he will leave the team on paternity leave for a few days.
- Jake Arrieta is slated to throw in an intrasquad/simulated game on Wednesday, followed by Zach Eflin (back spasms) on Thursday.
- Nick Pivetta is believed to be still in the mix to compete for a rotation spot. Any early absence from Wheeler could get him an early season start, regardless whether Velasquez is in the rotation with him or not.
The Phillies will play their final exhibition game on Monday. Then, there will be a few more intrasquad scrimmages, before everything starts to count. And, we now know that Nola will be on the mound for it.