Phillies or Braves: Who has the better rotation after Atlanta's Chris Sale trade?

The Braves made a big trade to bring in Chris Sale, but does that mean the division rival has a better rotation than the Phillies?

Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game One / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Aaron Nola vs Max Fried

Nola: 4.3 projected 2024 fWAR
Fried: 3.5 projected 2024 fWAR

The next guys up in each of these rotations are as high-quality No. 2 pitchers as you can get. Both Aaron Nola and Max Fried were the aces of their rotations at one point in their careers and can easily be the best pitchers for stretches on their respective teams.

That being said, Nola ranks third in total innings pitched over the last three seasons with 579 1/3 innings, while Fried ranks 49th with 428 2/3 innings. Nola has been one of the most consistent workhorses, but the quality of those innings has slipped recently. Fried, when available, has been effective and as solid as can be.

In 2023, Fried made 14 starts in the regular season, pitching to a 2.55 ERA, 1.113 WHIP, and 3.14 FIP — numbers that a team’s ace puts up. The year before, when he started 30 games, he had a 2.48 ERA, finished second in Cy Young voting and won the Gold Glove. If he can avoid injury and pitch a full slate in 2024, the Braves have one of the best one-two punches in baseball.

Nola, on the other hand, has fallen off a bit when looking at his numbers. He has glimpses of greatness and stretches where he's untouchable but falls apart far too often when he’s needed the most. In 2023, Nola ended the regular season with a 4.46 ERA, 4.03 FIP, and a 1.151 WHIP while striking out 202 batters over 193 2/3 innings.

Simply put, Aaron Nola needs to be better in 2024 and the Phillies are counting on it. They handed him a new seven-year deal worth $172 million. They are depending on him to find his magic again and be the pitcher they know he can be.