Derailed by an elbow injury in 2016, Aaron Nola looked like he could have his development stunted again after a back strain forced him to the DL for about a month early last season. Much to the delight of fantasy owners, Nola returned to action in late May and re-established himself as the Phillies' unquestioned ace, turning in a 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 4.1 K/BB from June onward. With the elbow issues behind him, Nola noticed increased velocity from all three of his offerings last season, supporting his case for remaining a strikeout-per-inning pitcher going forward. As he embarks on his age-25 campaign, Nola won't stand to see much of a bump in his win total unless the Phillies' rebuilding effort takes a quantum leap forward, but with his health sound heading into spring training, he profiles as a strong three-category pillar with some dark-horse Cy Young potential if he can reach 200 innings and/or 200 strikeouts.
Nola has signed a $573,000 split contract with Philadelphia, Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com reports. Nola spent almost all of last season in the majors, pitching 168.0 innings and accumulating a 3.54 ERA. The 24-year-old threw an average of 9.86 strikeouts per nine innings -- for a total of 184 strikeouts on the year -- and he had an elite FIP of 3.31. This suggests that Nola could have an even better fantasy year on the bump should Philadelphia's offense provide him with more runs, after a 12-11 record in 27 starts in 2017.
Nola (12-11) allowed two runs on five hits and two walks across six innings while taking the loss Monday against the Nationals. He struck out nine. Nola allowed a two-run home run to Michael Taylor in the second inning, but he was extremely effective the rest of the way and came away with his third consecutive quality start. His teammates weren't able to pick him up for the win, but that didn't stop Nola from running his K:BB to an outstanding 36:8 over 25.1 innings in his last four outings. He is not currently scheduled to pitch again this season due to the team's six-man rotation, meaning Nola's sophomore season could be in the books unless an alteration is made. If so, the 24-year-old's arrow will remain pointed straight up heading into 2018 after he posted a 3.54 ERA and 184 strikeouts across 168 innings this year.
Nola (11-10) picked up the win after allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters in seven innings Wednesday against the Marlins. Nola has been sharp in a pair of starts since his six-run blowup against the Marlins at the beginning of the month; he's allowed just three earned runs and compiled a 19:4 K:BB in 12.1 innings of work. The 11 strikeouts are a career high for the 24-year-old, and he's now fanned 167 batters in 155 innings this season to go along with his 3.60 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He's already reached a career high in innings, but assuming he stays on schedule, his next start is lined up for Tuesday against the Dodgers.
Nola allowed three runs -- just two earned -- on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight batters through 5.1 innings during Thursday's loss to Washington. He didn't factor in the decision. After turning in a sterling 10-game stretch with a 1.71 ERA and 10.3 K/9, Nola had allowed 19 runs through 23.1 innings over his past four starts for a 7.33 ERA. It's probably wise not to overreact to his recent inconsistency because the 23-year-old righty's 148 innings are well above any number he's thrown in any other season as a professional. In fact, rebounding with this strong showing against a contender should be the focus -- especially for keeper/dynasty owners. Nola projects to make his next start against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
Nola (10-10) gave up six runs on 10 hits and one walk while striking out seven over five innings in a losing effort against the Marlins on Saturday. The evening started poorly for Nola, as he gave up homers to Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna in the first, and the extra-base hits just kept coming. His curveball wasn't sharp and the Marlins sat on his fastball. Nola was excellent in June and July, but the long season may be catching up to the 24-year-old (19 earned runs in his last four starts). Assuming he stays on schedule, Nola will face the Nationals on the road his next time out.