Aaron Nola went six innings last night, striking out six while giving up just five hits and just one run, a solo homer to pitcher Nathan Karns. While Nola ended up on the wrong side of the ledger of a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the recently-22 Nola showed promise in locating pitches and wasn’t phased by base runners or by a tight early strike zone.
Here are how some other notable Phillies’ home-grown starters fared in their first starts.
Curt Simmons: September 28, 1947 – 9.0 IP, 5 H, 9 SO, 6 BB, 1 ER, W. The Gold Standards of Phillies’ debuts, Simmons’ contract forced the Phillies to keep the 18-year old on their roster through 1947 after signing him. Simmons, just a few weeks removed from pitching a gem in Egypt, PA against the Phillies in an exhibition, held the power-heavy New York Giants, with catcher Walker Cooper (35 HR), first baseman Johnny Mize (51), and outfielders Willard Marshall (36) and Bobby Thompson (29) patrolling the middle of the line-up, to one earned while striking out nine.
Robin Roberts: June 18, 1948 – 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 SO, 2 BB, 2 ER, L. Roberts would join Simmons on the Phillies the following season and have a pretty nice debut of his own, losing a 2-0 game thanks in part to a Wally Westlake homer.
Fergie Jenkins: September 10, 1965 – 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER, W. A future Hall of Famer, Jenkins began his career with the Phillies against the Cardinals in relief of Jim Bunning who started the game against Bob Gibson. Dick Stuart had two hits, including a homer, and three RBI for the Phillies.
Larry Christenson: April 13, 1973 – 9.0 IP, 5 H, 3 SO, 6 BB, 1 ER, W. If Simmons was the Gold Standards of debuts for the Phillies, Christenson takes home the silver. Christenson won a 7-1 decision over the eventual NL Pennant-winning Mets thanks in part to a three-run homer by first baseman Deron Johnson.
Dick Ruthven: April 17, 1973 – 1.2 IP, 5 H, 0 SO, 2 BB, 4 ER. Ruthven was taken number one overall in the 1973 January Supplemental draft and the Phillies wasted no time getting Ruthven to The Show. Ruthven was chased early by a light-hitting Expos squad in a game the Phillies would come from behind and win 9-6.
Pat Combs: September 5, 1989 – 6.0 IP, 3 H, 4 SO, 3 BB, 0 ER. Combs, a first-round pick in 1988, caught the Pirates on a day they were resting Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke, earning a no decision after six strong innings in a 3-2 Phillies win. Combs left the game ahead but reliever Jeff Parrett would earn the win after blowing the lead and finishing the game with the lead.
Brett Myers: July 24, 2002 – 8.0 IP, 2 H, 5 SO, 1 BB, 1 ER, W. Myers, a 1999 first-round pick, would make his Major League just a shade over three years after he was drafted. Myers kept a solid Cubs line-up guessing, out-dueling Mark Prior, winning a 4-2 decision with Jose Mesa closing it out after giving up a homer to Sammy Sosa.
Cole Hamels: May 12, 2006 – 5.0 IP, 1 H, 7 SO, 5 BB, 0 ER. Hamels, the Phillies’ 2002 first-round pick, earned a no decision after holding the Reds scoreless through five. Ryan Madson earned the win in relief after blowing the lead the Phillies had given Hamels. The game featured homers from Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino, who also had four hits.
What was your favorite Phillies’ pitching debut?
(Editor’s note: Tried to provide Grover Cleveland Alexander and Eppa Rixey debut reviews but box scores were unavailable on Baseball Reference.)