Aaron Nola’s sample size is small but the more the young LSU product pitches, he certainly looks like at least a number three starter. Nola was exceptional during his last outing Sunday against the Marlins.

The seventh overall pick of the 2014 draft, who was called up just after the All-Star break, gave up just three singles, while walking two and striking out six over eight shutout innings. Nola is 4-1 with an impressive 1.15 WHIP.

“I’m just trying to execute pitches,” Nola said. “It’s all pretty simple. I try to pound the zone.”

Nola doesn’t have an overpowering fastball but his location is exceptional. Combine his very effective heater with a sweeping curveball and he’s tough.

“He is very impressive,” Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said. “He hits his spots and he has great composure.”

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The Rays are the only team to defeat Nola. Tampa Bay scored just one run last month against Nola but it was enough as the Phillies were blanked. “He definitely won our respect,” Longoria said.

Nola has won more than that since his debut.

"It all comes off of that fastball,” Pete Mackanin said. “His biggest strength is his ability to command the fastball.”

Maikel Franco, who is still out with a wrist injury, loves playing behind Nola.

“What’s great about being out there with him is that you have the feeling that you can win every time he starts,” Franco said. “That’s a great thing.”

That’s what an ace brings to the table.

“I wouldn’t put him in that category, at least yet,” an NL scout said. “But Nola is a very smart pitcher. That’s going to take him a long way.”

Perhaps Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan can help the Phillies turn things around.

“All of those guys throw strikes,” Mackanin said. “If you throw strikes, you have a chance.”

Nola, 22, has the biggest upside of the bunch but you could never tell since the laidback hurler is so humble.

“I’m just out there battling,” Nola said. “I’m just trying to make pitches to give us a chance to win ballgames.”