Imagine being a first round pick turned ace at just 23 years old and being told you’re being shut down before the All-Star break?
That’s what Aaron Nola is going through after manager Pete Mackanin spoke with him following his last start. The Phillies young ace will miss his next scheduled start in Colorado with no timetable for his next start.
How’s that going over for Nola?
“I understand the process,” Nola said. “I'm still going to get my work in. I'm going to throw a simulated game, simulate a couple innings in Colorado. The main key and the important part is I feel healthy and feel strong right now.”
Nola says he sees the benefit of being limited at this stage in his career. He was rocked for five runs in five innings in his last start against Kansas City. He hasn’t gone past six innings since May 20.
His ERA was at 2.65 on June 5 before the descent began as that number jumped up to 4.69 after Saturday’s start. His opening start at Citizens Bank Park was a gem, tossing seven innings with just one run and four hits allowed.
The extended break should give him a boost for whenever he takes the hill again.
“I feel like any time you have some time off it definitely helps," Nola said. “This is my first full season here and they want to watch me, but I'm still going to go out and try to throw as many innings as I can and throw as much as I can.”
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Every professional pitcher wants to go out there every fifth day. Nola is no different. The LSU product will take this opportunity to work on hiting reset, believing his struggles have nothing to do with his delivery.
“I feel good with my body mechanicwise and the physical side of it," Nola said. “I bounced back after that second inning pretty well. I'm going to look at the positives of that game and go forward.”
Nola may very well be the ace of the future for this organization, even ahead of guys like Vince Velasquez and Jake Thompson. There’s no need for Nola to get a ton of wear and tear on his arm this season as he still gets acclimated to the big leagues.
The Phillies are using this decision to not only extend his arm life, but to prepare for what they hope is the beginning of a successful turnaround in Philadelphia.