If Aaron Nola’s two rehab starts are any indication, he looks ready to rejoin the Phillies rotation this weekend in Pittsburgh.
In his second rehab start, Nola was brilliant for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Monday night. He went 6 1⁄3 IP and gave up no runs on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. He threw 83 pitches in all, a highly efficient outing.
And in his two rehab starts recovering from a lower back strain, Nola pitched 10 1⁄3 innings and gave up one run on six hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk for an ERA of 0.87.
If the Phillies decide to keep him on his current schedule, he would be lined up to pitch on Saturday against the Pirates.
All systems go for Aaron Nola. It appears he will start Sunday in Pittsburgh.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) May 16, 2017
Nola was only supposed to miss one start with what he termed a minor back strain, but the injury took longer than expected to heal, and was placed on the 10-day DL retroactive to April 21.
Nola has made three starts with the Phils this year. In 16 innings he has a 4.50 ERA but a much better FIP of 3.08. His 21.7% strikeout rate is down from 25.1% last year, but inline with his 2015 (21.4%). However, he’s walked 8.7% of batters, up from his career norm of 6.0%.
He’s also dealing with a little bad luck on balls in play, allowing a BABIP of .404, which has allowed opponents to put up a .317 average against him in the early going. His ground ball rate of 54.2% is right at his career average, so it’s likely some of that batted ball luck will reverse itself as Nola accumulates some more innings.
Hopefully, that will begin on Saturday against Pittsburgh.