Phillies 2020 Season Player Grades: Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images) /
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Grading Phillies ace Aaron Nola’s 2020 season

Despite the Philadelphia Phillies acquiring Zack Wheeler last offseason, fellow right-handed starting pitcher Aaron Nola was still easily viewed as their ace during the 2020 season.

There’s an extra expectation that comes with being a team’s No. 1 starter; Nola was looking for a rebound year, with a 12-7 record, 3.87 ERA, and 1.265 WHIP last season after an All-Star campaign in 2018 that saw a 17-6 record, 2.37 ERA, and 0.975 WHIP — landing him third place in the National League Cy Young Award voting.

Nola’s performance this past season was good overall, but there was no consistency in what the Phillies got from him like in previous seasons. In the season opener against the Miami Marlins, Nola gave up four runs, five hits, and one walk, while striking out seven batters in 5 1/3 innings.

Nola rebounded in his following three starts, giving up a combined two runs across 21 innings against the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, and New York Mets. Those outings saw plenty of strikeouts, with 12, 10, and 8, respectively, against the teams.

Just as quickly as Nola appeared to be back to his 2018 form, things got ugly again. In an August 21st road start against the Braves, Nola got off to an okay start, with a hit and two walks surrendered through two innings. However, the game unraveled in the third inning, with Nola yielding four runs off of five hits and a walk, including two home runs; he recorded only two outs that frame before being pulled.