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Aaron Nola will join Phillies icons in making fifth Opening Day start


Aaron Nola will start on Opening Day for the Phillies. (Cheryl Pursell)

The list of Philadelphia Phillies starters to make five Opening Day starts — let alone five in a row — is very exclusive. When Aaron Nola toes the rubber at Citizens Bank Park against the Oakland Athletics on April 8, he’ll join a group that includes some of the very best starters in franchise history.

This will be Nola’s fifth straight Opening Day start, the longest streak by a Phillies starter since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton got the ball to start the season 10 years in a row from 1977 to 1986.

The only other Phillies starter in the Modern Era to make five or more Opening Day starts in a row was another Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts. Roberts made a franchise record 12 consecutive Opening Day starts between 1950 and 1961.

Nola will equal Wall of Famer Curt Schilling and Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander in terms of total Opening Day starts made as a Phillie with five, though neither did it in five consecutive years.

Now 28, Nola will need to make an additional season-opening start in 2023 (or at some point in the future) to pull even with Wall of Famer Chris Short with six Opening Day starts as a Phillie. Short made every Opening Day start for the Phillies between 1965 and 1971, with the exception of 1967, when Hall of Famer Jim Bunning got the ball for the Phillies.

It remains unlikely that Nola — or any Phillies pitcher — ever catches Roberts and Carlton in terms of total Opening Day starts. As mentioned above, Roberts made 12 Opening Day starts in a row for the Phillies, while Carlton got the ball on Opening Day 14 total times as a Phillie.

Nonetheless, five Opening Day starts is an impressive mark for Nola. The former first-round pick has a 2.96 ERA in his four previous Opening Day starts.

Nola will make $15 million in 2022, the final guaranteed year of his contract. The Phillies hold a $16 million club option in 2023 on Nola, who is currently the longest-tenured player on the team.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Steve

    March 25, 2022 at 2:16 pm

    This is the year NOLA needs to remain a PHILLIE
    NEXT YEAR is his option year and 17 million
    IF he can’t cut it this year good chance he is
    MOVED at the Trade deadline. We need PITCHING
    not PROMISES

    • Tim Flynn

      March 25, 2022 at 5:05 pm

      4 bombs in 5 innings? Can’t continue to throw fastballs down the middle.

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