Going into tonight’s game, Aaron Nola had 4.1 fWAR, good for 12th among MLB pitchers and 2nd among pitchers 24 years old and younger. The combination of his change and curve made hitter after hitter look silly over the 6 innings he pitched. Of the 18 outs he was on the field for, 9 of them came via strikeout. He walked 2, and gave up 5 hits, including, regrettably, a two run homer to Michael Taylor that provided the Nationals with all the runs they’d need.
When the offseason is upon us, many will clamor for the Phillies to acquire better starting pitching. These folks are not wrong, but in the haste to chase after a “top of the rotation” (“TOR”) starter, it would serve us well to remember that the Phillies have one: Nola. Adding another is a swell idea — the last time the Phillies had multiple TORs, they had a pretty good year.
But don’t forget what Nola has done this year. Had he been healthy all year, his season would have been that much more impressive. Remember earlier this year when Nola’s consistency was questioned and many weren’t sure exactly what Nola was? Well, we’ve seen it over the last half of the season. If he’s healthy, he’s really, really good. And...he’s 24. Nola’s bWAR, prior to tonight, was 4.3. Another Phillies pitcher had a really good year when he was 24, accumulating 4.4 bWAR. If Nola can match that pitcher’s career arc, it will bode well for the team in 2018 and beyond.
After Nola wrapped up his six strong innings and just over 100 pitches, the bullpen took over. Edubray Ramos pitched a solid seventh, with two strikeouts (one requiring a throw to first) and a groundout.
Victor Arano gave up a run in the eighth on a Ryan Zimmerman double, a Victor Robles single, and a fielder’s choice that Jayson Werth just beat out to prevent what would have been an outrageous “around the horn” double play. Arano followed that with a scoreless ninth.
The Phillies’ hitters did not do so well. Odubel Herrera had a single and a homer tonight, breaking out of a middling slump in typical Herrera fashion. He looks awful one at-bat — even one swing to another — and then parks a homer in the right field bleachers. I will never understand Odubel Herrera, but I will always love him.
Andrew Knapp got on base three times tonight — once with a single and twice with walks. He was the only other force for good.
The rest of the Phillies offense? Deader than White Walkers. Freddy Galvis kept up the pace needed for him to end up in the Top Ten of Outs Created in MLB again in 2017 as he was in 2016. Maikel Franco, who fouled off pitch after pitch in his last at bat, finally popped out and smacked his bat on the plate Bam-Bam style out of frustration that has to have been mounting all year. Rhys Hoskins continued to be cold as the league adjusts to his nuclear start.
As for the Nationals? They did what they needed to do to win. The Michael Taylor homer was all they needed. A.J. Cole did well enough, going 5.2 innings and giving up 1 run on the Herrera homer while striking out 5, walking 2, and giving up 6 hits. Their pen gave up zero runs over 3.1 innings.
With the loss, the Phillies fell to 62 - 95, keeping them in the hunt for the top draft pick and international signing money and so on and so forth.
Fangraph of Ice Floe:
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