Phillies Mailbag: Trade Deadline, Nola, Rotation’s Future
We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. We take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill. Ask a question any time to @FrankKlose on X (formerly Twitter) or text the show at 609-403-0973.
Did the Phillies really do enough at the trade deadline?
Well Roger, like other people out there, I would have really liked to see the Phillies add a right-handed outfield bat. But I was happy to see that the Phillies upgraded their starting rotation and helped the bench. Overall I would say they did well enough to win a Wild Card.
Looking at the right-handed bat names that moved, none of them really did anything for me. I really liked the possibility of Adam Duvall helping the Phillies, but the Red Sox decided not to sell. I think they probably should have sold, but they decided to go for it, and I cannot blame them.
Teoscar Hernandez? Meh. Tommy Pham? Could've been OK, but I really do not feel like the Phillies missed out.
The Phillies are competing for a Wild Card berth, not a National League East title at this point, to be honest about it. I think they have the pieces to do that. Even losing Brandon Marsh for a few weeks to injury, I think that they'll be able to make do.
There still could be some games that are frustrating to no end, but even though those games will take place, I see the Phillies in the playoffs.
Why are Phillies fans, besides the fact majority are dopes, so down on Aaron Nola?
Do you prefer the devil that you know or the devil that you don't know? I'll say this about Aaron Nola (in addition to saying I'm not calling him a "devil"): we know Aaron Nola. We watched him get drafted, come up to the major leagues soon thereafter, and every start in his major league career since. We've seen his absolute highs. We've also seen his lows.
2023 just has been OK for Nola.
The big knock on Nola has been his home runs allowed. He's allowed the most in the National League this season, second only to Lance Lynn (who has already allowed four for the Los Angeles Dodgers and could still catch up!). Nola has allowed 26 home runs and is on pace for about 38 for the season.
The most he has ever given up is 27 in 2019. He also allowed 26 in 2021.
Phillies fans have surely noticed that these home runs have really hurt Nola's season.
Looking at baserunners allowed per nine innings, Nola comes in at 10.30. That's good enough for fourth-best in baseball. Zack Wheeler is fifth in baseball, at 10.51. The difference between the two is how many of those baserunners have scored on home runs.
What is the cause of those home runs? Execution?
One suggestion could be that Nola's fastball velocity is below league average. And, when he throws it, Statcast indicates that he is throwing it over the plate. And, he's throwing it less. In 2021, 38.5% of Nola's pitches were his fastball; in 2023 he's throwing it 28.3% of the time.
So there are notable changes in Nola's performance. It does not mean that he cannot come up with a big game; figuring out how to give up fewer home runs would be helpful. I think Nola will still be in demand around baseball this offseason when he is a free agent.
But for fans, they must know Nola so well that they have noticed these trends.
Does the Andrew Painter injury change the Phillies approach with re-signing Aaron Nola?
I do not think that Andrew Painter's situation chances the Phillies plans a whole lot. It is very clear that they will need starting pitching down the line. For 2024, Wheeler, Ranger Suárez, and Taijuan Walker are all under contract. Nola is a free agent, as is Michael Lorenzen. Assuming Cristopher Sanchez will not be viewed as a long-term rotation piece, the Phillies will need to fill at least two holes.
One of those pieces could be Lorenzen. The Phillies traded one of their top prospects for his services for the rest of the season. He would not cost another draft pick to re-sign, and depending how things go, both sides could be interested in a reunion.
Another piece could come internally. Pitching prospect Griff McGarry was recently promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He could be an option to help the Phillies come September, if he comes up big.
Of course Painter could have been helpful in 2024. But also may be not; that may have been more aspirational. Mick Abel probably is not ready to start the season in the rotation in 2024 either. Abel could help down the line.
So the Phillies might be able to do without Nola, if Lorenzen stays. I think that they would like to have him back, but would still need one starter beyond Lorenzen. A strong September could make them really consider McGarry and encourage them to have a competition among McGarry and some others in Spring Training.
Would it have been nice to have Painter in the mix in 2024? Absolutely. But I think they'll be OK without him.