With nightmares of how Game 2 ended fresh in the minds of fans all across the Delaware Valley, Aaron Nola took the mound for the Phillies on Wednesday night to try and bring the good vibes back to Philadelphia; and boy did he deliver.
The big right-hander from Baton Rouge, who also happens to be the longest-tenured member of the Phillies, delivered 5 2/3 innings of two-run ball while striking out nine Braves hitters en route to a 10-2 win, giving the Phils a 2-1 series lead over Atlanta and putting them on the brink of a second straight NLCS appearance.
This of course followed up a dominant performance in Game 2 of the Marlins series, which saw Nola throw seven shutout innings.
Nola moved to 2-0 this post season with a 1.42 ERA and has looked every bit like the top of the rotation arm fans had grown accustomed to seeing over his nine seasons in Red Pinstripes.
Over the last two seasons, Nola has pitched in four "clinching" scenarios for the Phillies and has risen to the occasion all four times. In those games, Nola posted a 0.33 ERA and the Phils won all four.
Uneven regular season creates uncertainty around Aaron Nola's future
Set to enter free agency for the first time in his career, it's truly a mystery what the future holds for Aaron Nola.
The 2023 regular season was a roller coaster for the Phillies right-hander. Nola went 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA and allowed a career-high 32 home runs. It seemed obvious at times that he was having a difficult time adjusting to the new pitch clock rules. However, his season took a turn for the better in the month of August.
Beginning with his start on Aug. 10 against the Washington Nationals, Nola finished the regular season 3-1 with a 4.11 ERA. While the ERA doesn't look like anything special, he posted a 3.28 FIP in the same span while only allowing six home runs and also limiting opposing hitters to a .690 OPS.
Most importantly, the Phillies are now 9-1 (including the postseason) in Nola's last 10 starts. Pretty good stuff for a guy that had been pretty much written off by a good portion of the fanbase.
A few more good outings from Noles will undoubtedly cement his legacy in Philadelphia while also creating a clear path for his return to the Phillies.
There is no doubt that some team is going to pay Aaron Nola a lot of money this winter, and each good outing is likely to increase that price tag. Who knows? He may very well find himself staying put and once again donning the red pinstripes for the Philadelphia Phillies.