Aaron Nola shutout latest proof that Phillies need to lock ace up now

Pitcher Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Pitcher Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Aaron Nola proves he’s the Phillies ace and deserves a long-term contract.

The Philadelphia Phillies have an ace up their sleeve — one that will surely have his $16 million team option picked up for his age 30 season in 2023.

Making his 196th career start — 98th at Citizens Bank Park — right-hander Aaron Nola put together his best start of the 2022 season at a time when the postseason-hopeful Phillies needed him the most, helping the team close out a four-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

Just hours after the team announced Zack Wheeler is headed to the 15-day injured list with right forearm tendinitis, the fellow right-hander went the distance for a complete game shutout — yielding just five hits while striking out a season-high 11 batters.

Nola tossed his second-ever nine-inning shutout and the third overall for his career. The Louisiana native’s first shutout came in a seven-inning doubleheader contest during the 2020 season — which was shortened to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nola leads all of Major League Baseball with his three shutouts since then.

Nola continues to prove his ace status year in and year out. The Phillies should consider offering the right-hander a long-term contract — instead of just picking up his option and “rolling the dice” by letting him enter free agency after the 2023 season.

Here are a few stats that show just how dominant Nola has been in red pinstripes:

  • Nola has the fourth-most career double-digit strikeout outings (26) among Phillies pitchers. He trails just Steve Carlton (70), Curt Shilling (48), and Cole Hamels (29), reports StatsCentre.
  • Nola has thrown the last three complete game shutouts by a Phillies pitcher that featured 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks — August 25, 2022; April 18, 2021; and September 11, 2020. Vince Velasquez (2016), Roy Halladay (2010), Jon Lieber (2007), and Schilling (1996) previously accomplished the feat, notes Ryan Spaeder.
  • Since his 2015 rookie season, Nola (2) is one of just three pitchers with multiple nine-inning shutouts that featured 10-plus strikeouts and zero walks allowed — joining Clayton Kershaw (3) and Max Scherzer (3), reports MLB.com’s Jason Catania.
  • Nola is MLB’s only pitcher to pitch a shutout in each of the previous three seasons, notes NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman.

Thanks in large part to Nola notching his fifth-career complete-game effort, the Phillies won their 70th game, improved to a season-high 15 games over .500, and increased their lead to 2 1/2 games over the San Diego Padres for the National League’s second Wild Card spot. Lately, life has been good for Phillies fans.

Among President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski’s top offseason priorities should be to re-sign Nola to a multi-year deal. Hopefully before then, the ace has at least a few dominant Red October starts under his belt to back up his worthiness for a new, lengthy contract even more.

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