Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
After finishing third in the 2018 NL Cy Young voting and 13th in the MVP race, not many — if any — thought Nola would put together a 7.45 ERA and 1.66 WHIP through his first 19.1 frames of this season. That’s how baseball goes sometimes, though.
The right-hander’s batted-ball profile and quality-of-contact statistics look nearly identical to what he produced in last year’s breakout performance. Unfortunately, his current strikeout rate (21.8%) and walk rate (12.6%) are far from his best work. Philadelphia has gotten off to a good start despite Nola’s struggles, but he’s obviously a huge piece of the puzzle for manager Gabe Kapler‘s squad.
One key for the soon-to-be 26-year-old is to get his curveball working again. Between 2017 and 2018, that pitch produced a sub-30 wRC+ and a strikeout rate of at least 39.0% from opposing hitters. In the early going this season, hitters have produced a 139 wRC+ and 30.8% strikeout rate against it.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book and created an online class about how to get started as a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.