Phillies need Aaron Nola to pitch like a true ace in 2021

Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
1 of 3

Aaron Nola is widely considered as the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff.

Nola has indisputably been the team’s best starting pitcher during the six years since he debuted in the majors. He, along with first baseman Rhys Hoskins, are considered the best homegrown talent to develop during the organization’s recent rebuild.

Aaron Nola prepares for his seventh season in the Phillies starting rotation.

The 27-year-old right-hander owns a 58-40 career record and a 3.47 lifetime ERA. The “ace” label was given during Gabe Kapler’s first season as Phillies manager in 2018, when Nola went 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA and finished third in the National League Cy Young vote.

Nola owns a quality track record of major league success, but he is flawed in ways that Phillies fans should not overlook.

Is he the true staff ace the Phillies need entering the 2021 season, with hopes to compete for a Wild Card spot and/or National League East title?

Nola has struggled in his final starts of the last three respective seasons. His career ERA across September and October sits at 4.28 — a figure well above his career mark. The growth of his reputation since the breakout season in 2018 is based largely on his regular season performances through August.

The numbers have caused his critics to speculate to varying degrees about potential durability issues and just a general lack of poise in the game’s most important moments.

One fact is indisputable. The Phillies’ fatal flaw over the last three seasons has been their late-season collapses, and Nola is highly culpable in all of them.