The franchise's biggest signing, or re-signing in this case, during the offseason has been Aaron Nola. Despite an inconsistent performance overall in 2023, Philadelphia was adamant in making sure the former first-round pick by the organization remained in Phillies' pinstripes presumably for the remainder of his career. The right-hander agreed with the team to a seven-year, $172 million deal on Nov. 19.
Zack Wheeler has emerged as the clear No. 1 ace in the Phillies rotation over the last few years. Nola has developed the reputation of a solid second starter for Philadelphia. The 30-year-old had 12 wins last year, his most since he tallied that same amount in 2019.
He finished with a 4.46 earned run average, the second time in the last three seasons he has finished with an earned run average over four. Disregarding the COVID-shortened 2020 league year, Nola's 202 strikeouts in 2023 were his fewest since 2017 when he finished with 184.
Nola needs to be more than just durable
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native has finished with 32 starts in each of the last three seasons. Besides 2020, he has made between 32-34 starting appearances every year for the Phillies since 2018. His level of durability can be difficult to find in a starting pitcher, especially one who is a top-two starter.
His starting appearances in three of four postseason games last season heavily factored into the decision by the Phillies front office to re-sign the right-hander. In Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Miami Marlins and Game 1 of the NLCS versus the Diamondbacks, Nola gave up zero earned runs in seven and six innings pitched, respectively. Against the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS, he had nine strikeouts.
Nola has proven to be a bit unpredictable from year to year and lacks the consistency expected of a No. 1 pitcher in a starting rotation. Despite that, he will play a significant part in whether or not the Phillies win a World Series in 2024.
Philadelphia needs Nola to be pitching at his best, particularly as he did for the majority of last year's playoffs. If not, then the club may fall short again of hosting a parade down Broad Street at the beginning of November.