Phillies 2016 Season Report Card: Aaron Nola

As another season of Philadelphia Phillies baseball comes to a close, it’s time to break down the performances of everyone across the Phillies organization

Today we will take a look at starting pitcher Aaron Nola, who many saw as the future ace of a championship rotation in Philadelphia

Aaron Nola

SP, Philadelphia Phillies

B

6-9, 4.78 ERA, 121 SO, 29 BB, -.1 WAR

Like any young player, Aaron Nola had cases of the extreme highs and lows in his first full major league season.

In his season opener against the Cincinnati Reds, Nola was brilliant through seven innings.

He held the Reds to just four hits and struck out eight batters, but did not receive a decision in the loss.

April was an extremely successful month for Aaron Nola, proven by a 3.55 ERA through five starts. Four of his five starts in April went through the seventh inning, and the only exception was a blowout game by the Washington Nationals.

Even better was his career-high nine strikeouts in the Phillies home opener.

May was even more impressive for Nola, who sported a 2.31 ERA in six games. He was a major part of the Phillies early season success, where they finished the month of May a .500 ball club.

Then the wheels came off after the early successes of spring. In the month of June, Aaron Nola made four consecutive starts in which he did not pitch through the fourth inning. His strikeouts were cut in half, while the earned runs doubled.

Questions arose regarding his health for not just this season, but the long-term. With his pitching motion creating his arm almost like a whip, you feared he would ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point in his career.

The Phillies ultimately would shutdown Aaron Nola after the month of July in which he had a 6.30 ERA in just four starts. Nola would be placed on the disabled list for a strain in his pitching arm, which as of now has not required surgery.

A lot of numbers pop out when you breakdown Aaron Nola’s season. When the Phillies drafted him out of LSU, they knew he would have an excellent SO/BB ratio. While he did not qualify based on the number of starts he made, Aaron Nola’s 4.17 SO/BB would be in the top 15 in all of baseball next to names such as Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander.

His 9.8 K/9 would be the tenth best in baseball if he reached the number of qualifying appearances.

MLB Draft

The Phillies selected RHP Aaron Nola out of LSU with the 7th overall selection in the 1st Round of the 2014 MLB Draft. The club holds the 10th overall pick this time around.

Home runs are not a major problem for Nola, as he only have up 10 in 20 starts this season. Interestingly, 9 out of 10 of Nola’s allowed home runs came in Citizens Bank Park. While some of that can be attributed to him making nine starts at home, it also shows how vulnerable he is giving up those fly balls in a small park.

Looking at Nola’s spray charts from his days at LSU, you can see where the home runs he has given up land. Left field seems to be a magnet for him, which would make sense now that he pitches in Philly.

The first two charts show his numbers from LSU, while the third one represents his year for the Phillies.

Hopefully Aaron Nola can spend this offseason avoiding major surgery, getting healthy, and working towards next season. While the 23-year-old has flashed greatness, he still has a lot to learn before we can deem him the ace of the rotation.

Should he stay healthy and be ready to start the season off the disabled list, I’d like to see Nola get more ground balls and keep the ball in play. He is very mature for a pitcher his age, and will make the right decisions on the mound.

Next on the Phillies Report Cards, we will take a look at rookie pitcher Zach Eflin.

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