Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola pitched the top of the fifth inning for the National League in tonight’s MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park. As he has been for most of the season, the 25-year-old was excellent.
It was slightly surprising that National League manager Dave Roberts elected to use Nola fourth for the National League. By most accounts, he’s been the second or third best pitcher in the senior circuit in 2018. Max Scherzer, in his home ballpark, started the game. Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, as most expected, was used in the third inning, after Scherzer pitched the first two frames. Roberts took a detour in the fourth inning, electing to use Atlanta Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz for the fourth inning over Nola.
Instead, Nola came on for the fifth inning and performed like someone that’s going to start an All-Star Game at some point in his career.
Nola struck out the first two batters that he faced; Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals and Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox. Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, who is first in the majors in hits since the start of the 2015 season, laced a single over Chicago Cubs second baseman Javier Baez’s head, the only hit that Nola gave up. But Nola then got Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout, fresh off of bragging about the Eagles Super Bowl win, to pop up to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to end his inning.
Nola exited the game with the National League down 2-1. New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (who is playing left field tonight), hit a second inning home run. The aforementioned Trout added a second solo shot in the third inning. The National League got one back in the home half of the third, with Chicago Cubs catcher Wilson Contreas going deep.
Despite the Phillies 52-42 record, Nola was the Phillies lone All-Star representative, marking the fifth consecutive season that the Phillies had just one All-Star.
Nola, a 2014 first-round pick of out LSU, will enter the second-half of the 2018 season with a 12-3 record, a 2.30 ERA, a 2.60 FIP and a 4.2 fWAR. He’s now pitched in the All-Star Game, and with the Phillies in first place in the National League East, he’s on pace to pitch in the postseason for the first time this year as well.