BOSTON – The Phillies are considering a plan to max-out Aaron Nola the rest of the way. Under the plan, Nola would pitch every fifth day the remainder of the season, regardless of whether the Phils have an off day between one of his starts.
“It’s something we've discussed over the course of the last 10 days,” manager Gabe Kapler said before Nola took the mound against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. “It's something that we're considering. I don't want to make any announcements. But, starting Aaron every fifth day would also put him in line to start the last game of the season -- or give us a chance to have us start him the last game of the season. It's a major consideration and one we'll talk about after we get through today's start.”
The plan can be adjusted along the way if need be. For now, Nola’s fifth day would be Sunday in Miami.
“I'm comfortable going as far to say that that's a likelihood,” Kapler said.
If Nola pitches every fifth day the rest of the way, he would make eight more starts. He would line up to pitch the season finale at home against the Marlins on Sept. 29. If the Phillies are in or out of the playoffs by then, they could adjust.
The Phillies have often chosen to give Nola an extra day between starts when the schedule allows. In his career, he is 27-8 with a 2.60 ERA when pitching on five days’ rest instead of the customary four. Entering Tuesday night, he was 23-20 with a 4.49 ERA in his career on four days’ rest.
Keeping Nola on his fifth day the remainder of the season is an acknowledgement that Nola is very good. It’s also an admission that there’s a huge drop-off in the rotation after him. That drop-off could ultimately be the Phillies’ undoing in the wild-card race.
If the Phillies follow through and use Nola every fifth day, his remaining starts would be:
Sunday at Miami
August 30 vs. Mets
Sept. 4 at Cincinnati
Sept. 9 vs. Atlanta
Sept. 14 vs. Boston
Sept. 19 at Atlanta
Sept. 24 at Washington
Sept. 29 vs. Miami
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