Aaron Nola was looking to turn around a horrendous stretch of starts that has resulted in just one quality outing since June 5th. He didn’t turn it around to the extent we thought he would last night against the Atlanta Braves.
Nola’s outing was not as disastrous as some of his previous starts as he went five innings and allowed three earned runs. That doesn’t look terrible on paper. However, the real story lies beyond those numbers where Nola allowed eight hits, three walks, and plunked a batter. Nola went through the first four innings scoreless, but you could tell he was fighting his delivery and pitchers. He wasn’t sharp, working in and out of jams. To be fair, Nola’s defense didn’t help much when Odubel Herrera lost a fly ball in the tough twilight sky, which resulted in a messy three-run inning for the Braves, ending Nola’s night prematurely.
Anything less than a quality start last night, for me, would raise more concern than ever. Think about it, the Atlanta Braves are 35-67, the worst team in baseball. As the game progressed, Nola kept leaving the baseball further and further up in the zone. His curveball wasn’t tight and was left in the “happy zone” for Atlanta hitters many times. What might have saved Nola from a complete onslaught: the Braves are just that bad. They missed several of those pitches.
Nola looks off. As stated earlier, he’s fighting his delivery. His body language isn’t same. The right hander is not the same pitcher we saw in April and May. Nola’s ERA in June and July is 8.51. That is not a pitcher figuring it out by any means. A demotion for Nola might not be the worst thing for him. He gets to clear his head, pitch without any pressure, and work on mechanical issues with his delivery.
When the Phils won it all in 2008, Brett Myers was demoted after registering a 5.84 ERA. After a month in the minors, Myers worked out the kinks needed to come back for a postseason run. He returned it late July, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.06 ERA to help propel the Phils into the playoffs. The demotion proved to work for Myers. It could absolutely work for Nola, who has a much higher ceiling than Myers did.
What do you think? Should Aaron Nola be demoted? Vote here!