People were calling it Nolapalooza.
Phillies fans gave Aaron Nola a warm welcome when he took the mound for his MLB debut Tuesday, but the Phillies offense gave him the cold shoulder. Which is nothing new to Phillies starting pitchers.
Nola went six strong innings, allowing five hits and one run and with six strikeouts (and just one walk). It was one of the best debuts in Phils history, and of course, ended in a 1-0 loss.
“It was pretty awesome to be out there, to feel the energy of the fans,” Nola, no stranger to pitching on a big stage after four years at LSU, said. “I had a little bit of jitters in the first inning, but once I threw a few pitches they were gone."
Nola is just getting started, and depending on what you've heard, ace Cole Hamels could be on his way out. The trade deadline is just a week away and if Hamels is out the door, the timing of Nola’s debut seems relevant.
It could very simply be out with the old and in with the new.
Hamels, like Nola also churned out a very impressive Major League debut, going five scoreless innings and fanning seven Cincinnati Reds for a no decision back in 2006.
Comparing Nola to the 2008 World Series MVP is a bit of a reach. However, comparing the two when they were prospects is not.
In the 2002 draft, Hamels was selected 17th overall out of Rancho Bernardo High School. After the 2005 season, Hamels was ranked #68 by Baseball America. He also made his debut at the age of 22.
With the seventh pick in last year’s draft, the Phillies selected Nola out of LSU where he posted an 11-1 record, 1.47 ERA with 134 strikeouts, solidifying National Pitcher of the Year honors by the College Baseball Foundation. Baseball America ranked Nola #39 before this season.
“He was poised and had a good mound presence out there,” manager Pete Mackanin said Tuesday.” “We couldn’t be happier about his performance, we just couldn’t muster up any offense for him.”
Much like Hamels, Nola is not known as a power pitcher, his fastball ranges from 92-94 and it’s his command of it that stands out.
“He spotted his fastball very well,” Mackanin said, “Everyone seemed to be late on his fastball, it seemed there was late movement because they couldn’t get on it.”
Only time will tell if Nola becomes the next Hamels, or simply a back of the rotation starter. If Tuesday night was any indication, a time will come to take down the No. 35 jerseys off of the racks and replace them with No. 27.
“I know it was only his first outing but that was impressive to me. He knows how to pitch and he’s confident in his stuff and that’s great to see.”