Aaron Nola is scheduled to be the Philadelphia Phillies’ Opening Day starter against the Oakland Athletics on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park, manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday afternoon.
It will be Nola’s fifth consecutive Opening Day start, the first Phillie to accomplish such a feat since Steve Carlton amassed 10 straight from 1977 to 1986.
Though his peripherals indicated Nola suffered from at least a little bad luck, the right hander is coming off a down 2021 season. He posted a 4.63 ERA across 32 starts. However, Zack Wheeler, who finished the season as National League Cy Young runner-up, entered spring training behind schedule due to some offseason shoulder soreness. Those circumstances figured to pave the way for Nola to earn the nod.
Wheeler has yet to make an appearance in a Grapefruit League game, though he did throw a bullpen session without shoulder pain earlier this week. Nola had made a pair of starts, tossing five combined innings and allowing four runs — each on solo home runs. Three of those innings, and two of those homers, came Thursday.
Notably — to whatever degree — three of those homers came with two strikes, a department in which Nola struggled a year ago. Still, it is spring training, so do with those results what you will.
“I think I felt better today,” Nola said Thursday. “I wasn’t missing too many balls over the plate. Those two fastballs, one two-seam leaked back over, and one four-seam just didn’t get in there deep enough … I felt like I was getting strike one, strike two pretty quick, pretty early, getting ahead of guys. I felt good.”
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reports that Kyle Gibson, who is scheduled to start Friday, will likely toe the rubber the day after Opening Day. Wheeler, Ranger Suárez (late arrival to spring training due to visa issues) and Zach Eflin (recovering from knee surgery) might not be up to full capacity for the first week or so.
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