Aaron Nola has yet to record a decision in April, which is a far cry from his Cy Young nominee dominance that the Philadelphia Phillies are used to. In his only win, he pitched six innings against the Atlanta Braves, allowing one earned run with eight strikeouts. Since that game, Nola has had a rough time, twice pitching less than five innings. His longest outing this season has been in the 10-6 loss against the Washington Nationals when he did give up back to back home runs in a game where I believe he should have been pulled out earlier by Gabe Kapler.
A couple of observations that I’ve keyed in on are that he tends to be in the nineties with his pitch count around inning six, which is going to fatigue the pitcher who is known to be the ace of the rotation. The other bite-size piece of information that could maybe help explain his struggle this season on the mound is that Jorge Alfaro is not catching for him anymore.
JT Realmuto is clearly an upgrade for the Phillies, but what I mean here is specifically that Nola’s personal catcher in 2018 was Alfaro, and that was even with Wilson Ramos. I think that chemistry is a crucial component of the success of a starting pitcher in each game with a catcher, so this could just simply be growing pains in the early part of the 2019 season between two good players. Clearly, I think Nola will return back to the standard form that we all know he can perform at and it will be a thing of beauty with Realmuto on the receiving end.