The Phillies survived a late onslaught last night and finally snapped an eight-game losing streak, beating the Padres 4-3. Tonight, the two teams will clash again, but this game is even more important.
While the offense appears to have awoken from its slumber (kind of), the bullpen now needs to step up. The committee effort did well to keep the Padres cold last night, only allowing four hits, but giving up a whopping ten walks. The Phillies won’t be able to fly that close to the Sun again if they are to come away with a win, which means putting trust in a player who has been difficult to lean on all season.
Aaron Nola was a Cy Young candidate back in 2018, giving Phillies fans hopes and dreams of a pitcher who could rise to become one of the best. For whatever reason, this season has been a farcry from the dominant form that once graced Citizens Bank Park.
On the season, Aaron Nola is 7-7, allowing 4.48 runs per game through 24 starts. He was pulled before the fifth inning of his last start, after allowing 4 runs in as many innings to the Reds. He has failed to make it past the halfway point 11 times out of 24 starts this season, which is truly worrying.
While the narrative tonight will naturally follow Nola facing off against his brother Austin, the bigger battle will come against himself. Nola has shown flashes of being the pitcher that everyone knows he can be, but they have been mired by errors, heartbreaking homers, and an inability to put the cherry on the cake.
This game isn’t do-or-die as such, but it will go a long way in showing how high the ceiling really is for this Phillies team as far as making the playoffs goes. They sit 4 games back from the Braves and currently have a 25% of making the postseason, according to fangraphs. One way or another, we need to know that Nola can silence names like Tatis and Machado when their backs are to the wall…or at the very least how the Phillies can get out of a hole should Nola inadvertently dig them another one.
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