Phillies' Nola aiming to bounce back against Mets

September 18, 2018

Aaron Nola will make one of his final home starts of the year Tuesday against the New York Mets.

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Mets are meeting for the middle game in a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park. Lefty Steven Matz (5-11, 4.18 ERA) will be on the mound to oppose Nola (16-5, 2.42).

The Phillies (76-73) have dropped two in a row after Monday night's 9-4 loss, and they are seven games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East with 13 games to play. They are also 5.5 games back in the NL wild card race.

Nola is second in the National League in ERA (2.42), third in WHIP (0.971) and fourth in strikeouts (201) and innings pitched (193 2/3). However, the All-Star hasn't been as sharp in his first three starts this month.

Nola has a 5.60 ERA and opponents have a .871 OPS against him in September. He's allowed seven homers in his last three starts after giving up just eight in his first 27 appearances.

The Washington Nationals took Nola deep twice and scored four runs off him in five innings last Wednesday. The five inning start tied for the second-shortest of the season for Nola.

"He's missed location at times and he has been punished for those missed locations," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said after Nola's last start. "But part of Nola's success hinges on his deception, which he always has and has always had. ...There are going to be stretches, just like with anyone else, that you run through and they just put the fat part of the bat on the ball."

Nola is 9-2 with a 2.46 ERA and 10.4 K/9 rate in 15 starts at home this season. He's also has four wins against the Mets and has posted a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings against the Phillies divisional foe this season. Nola has a 3.38 ERA in eight career starts when facing New York.

The Mets could help out their teammate Jacob deGrom -- the front-runner for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award -- by hitting Nola hard. On the mound, Matz will try to continue a streak of strong starts.

Matz has a 2.67 ERA in five starts over the last month, giving up only 16 hits while striking out 35 batters in that 30 1/3-inning stretch. He notched a quality start in his last game, holding the Miami Marlins to three runs on three hits in 6 1/3 innings last Thursday. Matz also helped himself, hitting his first career home run in the Mets' win.

"It was a good feeling, I know that," Matz told of the two-run blast off Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara. "I definitely got all of it, and it definitely felt good to get my first one."

Matz, who is facing the Phillies for the fourth time this season, has a 4.58 ERA and 1.472 WHIP in four career starts against Philadelphia.