Aaron Nola should be plenty fresh entering the second half of his first full major-league season.
That’s because the Phillies will skip the right-hander’s start next Thursday in Colorado, which will give him at least 12 days off between his previous outing and the team’s post All-Star break opener on July 15.
Nola, the Phillies’ 2014 first-round draft pick, is only 30 starts into his big-league career and enduring his roughest stretch yet, in which his ERA has ballooned from 2.65 to 4.69. Over his past five appearances, the 23-year-old is 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA, while allowing 38 hits, eight walks and hitting four batters in 18 innings. In his first 25 major-league starts, Nola totaled three hit batsman.
The Phillies are resting their prized building block to “just clear his head, give him a little bit of time off,” as manager Pete Mackanin put it postgame on Sunday following a 7-2 win over the Royals at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay).
Nola understands the Phillies’ vigilance.
“I feel like any time you have some time off, it definitely helps,” he said. “This is my first full season here and they want to watch me, but I'm still going to go out and try to throw as many innings as I can and throw as much as I can.
“If you ask anybody, we all want to be pitching every fifth day. It's what they want to do and I understand. But hopefully it will help."
Nola will stay with the team and the plan is for him to throw simulated action in Colorado when the Phillies finish the first half with a four-game series against the Rockies starting Thursday.
Mackanin said Nola will start on schedule after the All-Star break. As for Thursday, the Phillies will determine Nola’s fill-in over the next three days.
Meanwhile, Nola and the Phillies are looking at the positives.
“The main key, and the important part is, I feel healthy and feel strong right now,” Nola said.
Despite giving up five runs in five innings on Saturday, Nola showed improvement. It was his longest start since June 5 as he settled down after a five-run second inning to retire his final 10 batters faced.
Nola, who relies on guile and precision, hopes it was a sign of returning to form.
“I feel good with my body, mechanic wise and the physical side of it,” Nola said. “I bounced back after that second inning pretty well. I'm going to look at the positives of that game and go forward.
“I'm still going to try to get my work in the best that I can and get ready for my next start.”