For the second year in a row, Aaron Nola will be the Phillies' opening day starter, manager Gabe Kapler announced Friday.
It comes as no surprise. Nola finished third in NL Cy Young voting last season when he went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA. With this new Phillies offense, Nola could win 20-plus games if he pitches like he did a season ago.
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Nola will face the Braves on opening day just as he did in 2018. This time, the game is at Citizens Bank Park. And Nola, barring a bad outing, will almost certainly exceed 68 pitches this time. Kapler made headlines last season by pulling Nola after the righty had pitched 5⅓ solid innings. Left-hander Hoby Milner replaced Nola with one out and a man on second and the Phils up 5-0. Freddie Freeman promptly hit a two-run homer, and the Braves scored six times in the final two innings for the comeback win.
If Nola pitches on regular rest, the Phillies could start him twice in the first four games of the season and three times in the first eight because of off-days.
The Braves' best pitcher last season, Mike Foltynewicz, may not be ready for opening day because of a sore right elbow. If he's unable to go, the Braves could turn to Julio Teheran, who has started each of their last five season openers.
Bryce Harper is 18 for 40 with eight home runs off Teheran. He's reached base in 30 of 52 career plate appearances against him.
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