Aaron Nola has been one of the few bright spots for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2015. The Phillies obviously thought very highly of Nola, as they took him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. When that selection was made, the Phillies were hopeful that Nola could rise through the minors and make the big league in short order. That’s not an unreasonable plan for a pitcher taken out of a well-regarded college program like LSU where Nola played.
This has obviously been the case. After beginning his first full season, Nola only made 12 starts in Double-A before earning a promotion. It’s not hard to see why the Phillies made that decision so quickly; Nola posted a 1.88 ERA and a 59/9 K/BB ratio.
Nola wasn’t as dominant in Triple-A, but his numbers weren’t bad either, posting a 3.58 ERA over six starts. His K-rate went up, but his H/9 and BB/9 went up too.
Nola’s calling card has been his impeccable command. He owns a ridiculous 1.5 BB/9 rate for his short career. He won’t blow people away with his stuff, he doesn’t throw hard, he won’t strike out 10 batters every game, but he won’t give many free passes. He’s very much akin to Cliff Lee when it comes to mid-90s stuff and a low walk rate.
Nola’s short MLB tenure has been up-and-down, but that’s to be expected from young pitchers.
His first career start was phenomenal, only giving up one run in six innings. Since then, his ERA has gone up in every start, giving up four to the Cubs, two to Atlanta, three to San Diego, and four to Arizona. Even with those middle of the road ER totals, he’s still 3-1 on the season.
Is Nola the future Phillies ace? Is he a strong second or third starter? It’s too early to set these things in stone. After all, he’s only 22 and has five starts under his belt in the MLB.
What is for certain, however, is that the Phillies have a potential ace on their hands. Aaron Nola has all the tools to be great.