With just 16 games remaining in the 2015 regular season, and with three off-days built into the balance of their schedule, the Phillies have to be seriously contemplating shutting down rookie starting pitcher Aaron Nola.
Since joining the rotation for a July 21st start at Citizens Bank Park against the Tampa Bay Rays, Nola has proven across 11 big league starts that he belongs here, and that he is most definitely a big part of the Phillies' future as we move forward.
His forte is command and control, and Nola threw 59 strikes among his 88 pitches while delivering a Quality Start. That is exactly the kind of production the Phils will be looking for moving forward.
The 22-year old has thrown 65.2 innings for the Phillies across those 11 starts. He has a 6-2 record, and the club, which is 34 games below the .500 mark overall, has a 7-4 record in the games in which he has started on the mound.
Nola has allowed just 63 hits in those 65.2 innings, fashioning a 59-16 strikeout/walk ratio. However, his 4.11 ERA, 1.203 WHIP, and 4.35 FIP marks are all higher marks than you would like.
But when factoring in the fact that he is just 22 years old, competing at the highest level against the best hitters in the world, those are not bad freshman marks at all. There is certainly room for growth and improvement, and we should expect to see that with experience.
Those 65.2 innings are added to the 109.1 which he threw combined with AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley before his promotion to give a total of 175 innings which the righthander has pitched this season.
The Phillies were public early on, particularly former GM Ruben Amaro, in wanting to hold Nola to just over the total innings that the pitched a year ago, possibly around the 180 innings pitched mark.
Following another off day next Monday, the Phillies open a series in Miami on Tuesday the 22nd with David Buchanan scheduled to take the mound. Beyond that, there have been no announcements.
The Phillies would have five consecutive days with games following that Tuesday nighter. The team could go one of three ways with Nola.
They could just shut him down now, which is a possibility. They could start him on one of the five days just mentioned, giving him one final start against either the Marlins or in the following series vs the Nationals.
Another scenario, far less likely, is that the club could simply let him pitch out the season as a member of the rotation.
That would mean he likely starts on Wednesday the 23rd vs Miami, and then is in line to make a final start vs the Mets or Marlins at either the end of September or in early October.
I don't believe that Aaron Nola is going to see October baseball this season, at least not as a member of the Phillies starting rotation.
The most likely scenario is that he makes one of the starts on the road next week.
However, don't be surprised if you see the powers-that-be within the organization simply call it a wrap on the 2015 season for one of the keys to the Phillies future.