After a stellar season in which he emerged as a true No. 1 starter and ace, Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola is a finalist for the 2018 National League Cy Young Award.
Nola will be competing against Washington Nationals stud Max Scherzer, who Nola outdueled twice in the month of September, and New York starter Jacob deGrom, who is seen as the favorite to win this award.
Nola had an incredible season, making all 33 starts and pitching 212.1 innings, 3rd most in the National League. His 2.37 ERA was 2nd in the NL (only deGrom’s 1.70 was better) and his 3.01 FIP was 4th, with an fWAR of 5.6 that was also 4th-best in the National League and a bWAR of 10.5 that was tops among pitchers, slightly ahead of deGrom’s 9.6.
Nola also had the 3rd-best WHIP (0.975), was 4th in hits per nine innings (6.316 H/9), 8th in walks per nine and strikeouts per nine, and was 7th with a strikeout percentage of 27.0%.
deGrom probably has the better argument to win this award, with a 1.99 FIP that was also best in the NL, along with a 32.2% K-rate and a 5.85 K/BB ratio that were both 2nd only to Scherzer last season.
Nola’s emergence this year was due in large part to the development of his changeup against left-handers, throwing it a career-high 19.7% of the time. Of course, his curveball and laser-controlled fastball continued to be his main weapons, but that changeup helped left-handers hit just .186 against him this year. Last year they hit .255 against him.
So no, Nola probably won’t win this award, but he’s already done something Cole Hamels never did, finish no worse than 3rd in the Cy Young voting, and it’s very possible he’ll finish ahead of Scherzer as a distant runner-up to deGrom.
The Cy Young will be awarded on Wednesday, November 14.