The stretch run is finally upon us as we near the end of the 2023 MLB season. As it stands today, with 36 games remaining, the Phillies are three games up on the final Wild-Card spot and 3.5 games up on the Cubs for the top Wild-Card spot which would earn the, ever important, home field advantage in the wild card games. The last month of the season is where the best and the worst of teams shine. With the spotlight on, players and teams can either tighten up and flounder or they can rise to the occasion and provide the necessary push into the Playoffs.
Let’s take a look at the most important players for the Phillies as we enter the stretch run.
1. Aaron Nola
The 2023 season for the 30-year-old right hander has been a bumpy one. Through 26 starts, Nola has a 4.48 era, 4.33 FIP, a 1.154 WHIP, and leads the league with 29 home runs surrendered. He has already surpassed his career high in earned runs and homers given up with more starts remaining. That being said, Nola has flashes of what has made him one of the top arms in the game. It’s not uncommon for him to have four or five shut down, great innings but then run into major trouble in one inning skewing his line in a negative way. Teams with World Series aspirations need their top end starters to perform as such and it’s no different for the Phillies. Nola is one of the major keys that will unlock the 2023 Phillies. It should come as no surprise that in the games that Nola has won he has a 2.99 era and .968 WHIP but in the games in which he lost his era jumps to 6.70 with the WHIP sitting at 1.468. If Nola can find a rhythm and perform the way he has in the past, the Phillies starting rotation can compete with any in the league and can be the guiding light for this team deep into the playoffs.