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3 Numbers to Remember: Nola continues to struggle

Aaron Nola has struggled in 2019. (Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies dropped two of three to the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park in a deflating weekend series capped off with a 15-1 loss Sunday.

Here are three numbers that highlight the Phillies pitching struggles this season and the player who has carried the offense since Andrew McCutchen went down with a torn ACL:

7.28: Aaron Nola’s road ERA

A small amount of regression could have been expected for Aaron Nola this season, who finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2018 while logging a career high in innings. However, what has happened in his first 15 starts this year could not have been expected. Nola has lacked the command that made him so dominant in 2018, and it has hurt his ability to put guys away:

In a near-must win game on Saturday, Nola just did not show up. He was given the lead early, but ultimately squandered it after allowing a three-run home run to Josh Donaldson in the fifth inning.

And while the Phillies were able to pull out a win, this was another poor start on the road for Nola, who has been particularly bad away from Citizens Bank Park this year:

There is no way around it: Nola has not been anything close to an ace in 2019, and has done nothing to indicate he will turn it around anytime soon. This is not to say that this is just who Nola is now, but it is clear that right now he is not who he was in 2018, either.

Seven: Hits for Scott Kingery in this series

We’ve talked about Kingery on a few of these recaps, and he has given me no reason to stop.

The 25-year-old added another seven hits in this series after tallying four last week against the Diamondbacks. In his last six games, Kingery has four home runs, three doubles and a triple, and has carried the offense since Andrew McCutchen landed on the injured list.

Kingery’s 1.049 OPS ranks second in the National League East and ninth in baseball, and he has been hitting the ball hard all season long. Throughout his struggles last season, Kingery had an average exit velocity of 85.5 mph and failed to barrel the ball often, with a barrel percentage of 5.1%. This season, he has increased his exit velocity to 90.3 mph and his barrel percentage to 10.7%, which has fueled his massive improvement.

29: Runs scored by Braves in series

The Braves offense has been one of the best in baseball so far this season, and this continued this weekend as they shelled Phillies pitching.

More than half of these 29 runs came against Vince Velasquez, Cole Irvin and Jerad Eickhoff, who allowed 15 in just seven innings on Sunday. In 20 combined starts, these three pitchers have a combined 5.26 ERA and have surrendered 26 home runs in only 101.2 innings. This production is simply unacceptable for a team trying to make the playoffs, and even worse considering the struggles of Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.

It is becoming hard to ignore the Phillies failure to address the rotation during the offseason. Charlie Morton signed for only $30 million over two years, and while he has been a Cy Young candidate for the Rays, the back of the Phillies rotation has been a revolving door of the three pitchers who struggled greatly on Sunday.

Following Sunday’s loss, it increasingly feels like the Phillies can’t wait until the July 31 trade deadline to make an addition to the back-end of their starting rotation.


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