Written By Jason Voorhees
Aaron Nola's 2019 season has gotten off to a very rocky start. Studying what may be wrong with the 2019 version of Nola had me wondering where he stands compared to the leagues other ace pitchers. After glancing at the leaderboards throughout the league one thing jumped off the screen. The fact of the matter is that many of the leagues aces have not been all that good so far this year.
In fact, it has been a tough go of it so far for many elite starting pitchers. Max Scherzer, considered by some to be the top pitcher in the game, has abysmal stats by his standards in five starts. In 32 Innings Pitched, he is just 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 44K's and 5BB. He has also given up 3 long balls early on and has not been the dominant force that we have grown accustomed to watching on a nightly basis.
Chris Sale has been even worse. He is 0-4 with a terrible 8.50 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 14K's and 5BB while giving up 5 long balls. Some experts point to a drastic dip in velocity and are claiming a possibility that Sale is injured. Whether there is an injury or maybe just a mental block, Sale has in his own words flat out "sucked."
Another of the league's elite, Corey Kluber has been awful as well. In one of his starts he lasted only 2 2/3 Innings and gave up six runs. Kluber, known as one of the most consistent starting pitchers in the league has been uncharacteristically inconsistent. Hence his 2-2 Record in five starts. He has a bloated 5.88 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. He also has 22K's to go along with 12BB and has served up 4 dingers.
I could keep going with a list of ace pitchers that have been very un ace like so far but it would take up the entire page. The fact of the matter is...2019 has not been kind to these elite pitchers in the seasons early stages. This could all change but it does make you wonder why? What are some of the factors that have lead to this interesting anomaly so far.
Even the National League's reigning Cy Young winner Jake deGrom has been somewhat off of his game. His teammate Thor has been a disappointment as well. This is the one reason why it may be too early to write off Aaron Nola just yet. I do think that Aaron Nola's case could be very similar to the others.
The one constant with all of these examples has been a lack of control. All of these studs thrive when they are pitching with consistency and staying around the plate. In 5 starts, Nola has walked 12 batters and given up 7 long balls. Last year, Nola only walked 58 hitters all year and only surrendered 17 home runs. Those numbers came in 212.1 Innings Pitched. The old adage walks kill has been a daily theme in Aarons starts thus far.
Lack of control can be the number one reason why Nola has been off his game. Another key element of Nola's game that the games other elite share is the movement on their out pitch. Nola's out pitch happens to be his curveball. When Aaron is able to locate his curveball with pin point accuracy it is deadly. Well his curveball's location has been missing the target by a wide margin. When Aaron can't hit the mark with his curveball, it forces him to rely more heavily on the fastball. This can explain his sudden propensity to serve up home runs at an alarming rate.
Thirdly, Aaron has had to pitch from behind due to his lack of getting ahead of hitters. When Nola is at his best, he is pounding the strike zone early and then using his curveball to make hitters chase. This has been a recipe for success for the young ace. Well, Nola is instead pitching from behind and then failing to locate the curveball. Its like the "perfect storm" for disaster and that's where Aaron Nola is living so far.
Can Nola right the ship...of course. He has to improve in these three areas and you will then see Nola being successful once again. During his last start, there was some reason for optimism as he was finally getting that nasty movement on his curveball once again. I think a lot of his struggles could be confidence as well. Nothing a few quality starts cant repair.
Lets face it folks...the Phillies season rests on the status of Aaron Nola and whether he can get things turned around moving forward. If Nola continues to struggle, the Phillies chances of making the playoffs will sink faster than the Titanic.
However, if Nola can get back to his 2018 form, then this team will be a force to be reckoned with. Aaron just needs to take a deep breath and start throwing with authority again. Pound the strike zone early on the corners with the fastball. Then use the machine like curveball to annihilate opponents.
Sounds so easy right.
Well I do think that Aaron Nola will turn it around just like I think the leagues other aces will figure it out. Good pitching will always favor good hitting in my book. And the league needs its star pitchers to get back to their dominant form.
Here is hoping that this all is just really an anomaly and that the aces will be dealing. Until then, its aces are wild and the fans are getting ready to flush their royal toilets on the 2019 season. Don't give up yet folks...its still very early.
Yes, offense and home runs are exciting to watch. However, in my book dominant pitching is the masterpiece that we should all be craving. I cant wait for these guys to get it turned around so that we can see the master script. Nothing like watching a deGrom/Scherzer battle it out on the field. If these aces can improve it should be a fall run to remember!
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.