Phillies Made the Right Call With Aaron Nola

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Aaron Nola's season is over. He will not start Sunday in the Phillies' series finale against the Marlins, manager Gabe Kapler said Thursday afternoon.

It's the right call, even with Sunday being Fan Appreciation Day. Nola has made 34 starts this season and made 33 a year ago. That's 67 consecutive turns through the rotation Nola has taken the ball. He's tied with Justin Verlander for the most starts in the majors over that span.

Nola followed 212⅓ innings with 202⅓ this season. Since the start of last season, only Verlander, Jacob deGrom and Zack Greinke have pitched more innings. 

Nola showed signs of fatigue this month. He went 0-3 with a 6.51 ERA in five September starts, and overall this season did not come close to replicating his 2018 dominance. Truth be told, he might never again reach that level. To post a 2.37 ERA in 212⅓ innings like Nola did last season is extremely rare. Roy Halladay had an ERA that low once. Ditto for Curt Schilling. Cliff Lee never did. Tom Glavine never did. 

This season, Nola's ERA was exactly a run-and-a-half higher - 3.87. He allowed 10 more home runs than he did a year ago, which is understandable given the material change in baseballs. This was more of a Three True Outcomes year for Nola than he's ever had - his strikeout rate, walk rate and home run rate were all career-highs. 

The Phillies extended Nola before the season, committing $45 million to him over four years (2019-22). They also hold a $16 million club option for 2023. When Nola signed that deal, it looked quite team-friendly. It still does, just not as much. Nola and his representation likely saw last offseason as the prime time to sign the extension since he had reached such a rare, likely unsustainable level.

No starter has yet been announced for Sunday. The Phillies could go with Cole Irvin or Ranger Suarez for a few innings in a bullpen game. They did that in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader when Blake Parker started.

This weekend's series against Miami carries some importance but not much. The Phillies are still playing for a winning record. It would be pretty pathetic for them to finish the same as or worse than last year's 80-82, even with all the injuries.

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