02/09/2022 10:00 AM
Article By: Joe Koetters
In 2018, Aaron Nola was a force to be reckoned with in the MLB, as he finished 3rd in Cy Young voting with a 2.37 ERA, 224 strikeouts, and a 173 ERA+ (highest of his career). Although Nola only played in 2 games for the Harwich Mariners, the two games were extremely dominant. The first was a 5 inning win giving up 2 hits and striking out 10 and the other was a 6 inning win giving up 3 hits and striking out 5 and only allowing 1 run across both games. However, 2021 saw the worst year in Nola’s career since his rookie year.
One of the biggest problems for Nola was his inability to perform well outside of Citizens Bank Park. In 2021, Nola had a home ERA of 3.86 and a road ERA of 5.27. Nola has always struggled on the road, aside from his All Star season in 2018, but this was the worst road ERA of his career. The struggles are interesting, considering Citizens Bank Park is typically viewed as a hitter friendly ballpark.
Another reason for Nola’s struggles included the long ball. Nola’s HR/9 in 2021 was 1.3, tied for the highest of his career with his rookie year. These extra long balls are coming from a result of Nola allowing more fly balls and more specifically, more hard fly balls. In his career, Nola’s average launch angle on balls allowed was under 10. In 2021, the average launch angle was 14.4, a whole 5 degrees higher than his next highest total. Nola allowed a career high 40.5% fly balls, 8% higher than his next highest during his rookie year.
Overall, Nola has proved that he can be an ace in the MLB and has proved that he has the stuff to do it over a full season. Maybe 2021 as a whole was just an outlier of a season and it’s not a true representation of what Nola can do. On the bright side, it is very clear to see what the problem was for Nola this past seasons. Changes can be made and you can expect that Nola returns to being a top pitcher in the Phillies rotation for 2022.