Did the other shoe just drop?
Aaron Nola, who has been in the midst of a monumental struggle over the last two months, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with what the team says is a “right elbow strain.” Lehigh Valley’s Phil Klein has been called up to take his start against the San Francisco Giants in Philadelphia.
Jake Thompson was not an option, as he started just two days ago for the Iron Pigs.
There has been speculation by some that the Phils could send Nola down to AAA, but a DL stint hadn’t been considered, as the team had said the pitcher was healthy.
Overall this season, Nola is 6-9 in 20 starts (111.0 IP) with a 4.78 ERA and a 3.07 FIP, striking out 9.81 batters per nine innings and walking 2.35. But it has been a tale of two seasons for the young right-hander.
Through his first 12 starts, he was 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA and a 2.73 FIP, with 9.81 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9. Opponents were hitting a mere .209 against him, and his WHIP was 0.99.
Over his last 8 starts, Nola was 1-7 with a 9.82 ERA, allowing 36 earned runs in 33 innings. He walked 3.82 batters per nine innings, far higher than his career average of 2.29, and allowed opponents to bat .355 against him with a WHIP of 2.06.
Perhaps most concerning, Nola’s velocity reached a low point in his last outing, against Atlanta, averaging just 88.5 mph. His average fastball velocity this season is 90.1 mph, according to Fangraphs.
The Aaron Nola graph that makes you go, “Hmm.” pic.twitter.com/6cGIBWfMg9— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 3, 2016
Is this a real injury? Or is this simply a “get your head on straight” type of DL stint? With plenty of options left, it would have made more sense to send Nola to AAA if the idea was to get his head straight. After all, the Phils already gave Nola a long breather right before the All Star break.
It appears as though the injury is real.
Nola complained about elbow discomfort Sunday in Atlanta. MRI this morning showed a sprain. Could be shut down if he misses too much time.— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) August 3, 2016
Manager Pete Mackanin told beat reporters that, with only two months left, there was a good chance we’d seen the last of Aaron Nola in 2016.
Very good possibility Nola will be shut down for season. Simple math: only two months left, would need a rehab stint to build arm back up.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) August 3, 2016
On the plus side, it looks like it will hasten the arrival of Thompson to the Majors in time for Nola’s next start.
Asked if Thompson could be called up from AAA & take Nola's spot next week, Mackanin said, "Possibly -- that might be a good, solid guess."— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) August 3, 2016
One wonders if the real reason the Phillies didn’t trade Jeremy Hellickson at the trading deadline was because they knew, or at least had a very strong feeling, that a Nola DL stint was either probable or possible.
I got an answer to my question.
Pete said Nola condition no impact on Hellickson staying. Phils would have dealt Hellickson if got deal they liked.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) August 3, 2016
So now, the Phils are without the pitcher they felt would be their number-one option in 2016, with serious question marks surrounding the former first-round pick heading into 2017.
Sometimes, baseball sucks.