When the Phillies chose Aaron Nola in the first round of the 2014 draft, the organization felt they had nabbed their ace of the future.
The LSU product had some consistency issues and injury concerns early on, but Nola has gotten back on track and in a big way.
The right-hander was absolutely dominant in July. He finished with a 1.32 ERA, the lowest number in a given month by a Phillies pitcher since Cole Hamels posted a 1.23 ERA in 2014. He’s also riding an impressive streak of eight straight starts with at two or fewer earned runs and at least six innings pitched. That stretch makes him just the fifth Phillies starter to accomplish that since 1913.
Nola’s 9.40 strikeout per nine innings ranks sixth among National League pitchers while his 25.5 strikeout percentage sits as the 10th best. He also set a career-high with 10 strikeouts in his July 26th outing.
“Nola was fantastic,” said manager Pete Mackanin following that 9-0 victory over Houston. “He just really mixed his pitches up. He threw a lot of breaking balls and that’s the kind of things you have to do to get hitters out.”
That has been the case for Nola for much of this season, particularly over the past two months.
The sudden dominance has been a welcomed sight for Phillies fans who began lessening expectations after an injury-riddled 2016 campaign. Coming into the year, Nola had gone 1-5 with a 9.82 ERA over his final eight starts before being shut down.
Throughout spring training and in the days leading up to his first start of the year, Nola had preached to reporters how he felt much better than he did last season, and that he was feeling confident in his stuff despite the results he had in 2016.
That message has certainly been met as Nola sits at 8-7 (6-3 in June and July) with a respectable 3.16 ERA on the season. After an 0-3 month of May, his ERA had skyrocketed past 5.50. To see him come back as strong as he has since then has given this organization a shot in the arm and reassured his status among this team’s future.