Looking to optimize their chances of making the postseason for the first time since 2011, the Phillies have made a slight but significant adjustment to the starting pitching rotation.
Aaron Nola and Vince Velasquez will flip-flop in the rotation. Nola will move up a day and pitch Sunday against Jon Lester and the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park. Velasquez will move back and pitch Monday afternoon in Miami.
"It's mostly because Nola is awesome," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's been tremendous and we want him starting sooner rather than later."
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Either way, Nola was slated to have six more starts. The adjustment in the pitching order means that Nola will make four of those starts at home, where he is 9-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 13 starts this season. Using Nola where he pitches best could provide the Phils with an edge and it certainly won't hurt Nola's Cy Young chances. He ranks second in the NL with a 2.10 ERA. Jacob deGrom of the Mets has the majors' best ERA at 1.68.
The Phillies entered Wednesday night trailing first-place Atlanta by 4½ games in the NL East and they were 2½ games back in the wild-card race with three teams ahead of them.
Barring any rainouts, Nola lines up to face Atlanta twice in the final week of the season, including in Game 160, which is scheduled for the final Friday night of the regular season.