As baseball's offseason takes shape, we will take a look at each player on the Phillies 2020 roster and where they fit in the future. We'll go through the roster by uniform number, lowest to highest for position players, highest to lowest for pitchers, and alternate daily.
Our series ends today with starting pitcher Aaron Nola.
Steady in personality and performance, Nola has blossomed into one of the game's most dependable starting pitchers, a front-half of the rotation rock that any team would like to have.
Check out where he ranks among qualifying major league starters the last four seasons:
No. 6 in innings pitched with 654
No. 13 in ERA at 3.23
No. 7 in strikeouts at 733
No. 8 wins with 46
No. 8 in quality starts with 67
No. 19 in WHIP at 1.14
No. 13 in opposing OPS at .649
No. 18 in opposing batting average at .221
Over his career, he is 58-40 with a 3.47 ERA in 139 starts. He loves pitching in South Philadelphia, where he is 33-17 with a 2.99 ERA in 71 starts at Citizens Bank Park.
How he became a Phillie
With the seventh pick in the 2014 draft, the Phillies set out to find an impact pitcher who could get to the big leagues quickly. They got one in the polished right-hander out of LSU. Nola debuted in the majors with six innings of one-run ball against Tampa Bay on July 21, 2015 and three years later went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA to finish third in the National League Cy Young voting.
According to Fangraphs' data, Nola and rotation mate Zack Wheeler finished tied for 11th among major league pitchers with 2.0 wins above replacement in 2020.
Nola went 5-5 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 12 starts.
Though he is a command pitcher adept at creating movement with his sinking fastball and a sharp, sweeping curveball, Nola can power hitters with four-seam fastball and fool them with a very good changeup. He ranked third in the NL with 96 strikeouts in 2020 and his 12.11 strikeouts per nine innings and 33.2 strikeout percentage were the highest ever for a Phillies pitcher with more than 70 innings in a season.
If Nola has a hole in his game, it's the month of September. He pitched to a 6.60 ERA in his final three starts, all Phillies losses, in 2020 and was 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA in five starts in September 2019. The Phillies fell out of playoff contention both times.
What lies ahead
Nola turns 28 in June. He's healthy and very much in his prime. He signed a four-year, $45 million contract before the 2019 season and the team holds a $16 million option for 2023. With his talent and the foundation he has built, it would not be surprising if these next three seasons are the best of his career. Along with Wheeler, he's half of a 1-2 punch that a lot of teams would love to have and Zach Eflin is blossoming right behind them.
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