Truth be told Aaron Nola‘s chances of winning the Cy Young award was a long shot. Most reports and pundits had him third in the three headed race which is the National League Cy Young race. Led by Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, the 2018 Cy Young award was probably not going to land in Philadelphia. However, with some recent success against his peer Scherzer, Nola was picking up steam and some much needed votes for the Cy Young race. That all changed Sunday when Aaron Nola started against the Chicago Cubs.
Aaron was probably pitching the best baseball of this season (quite possibly his career) recently and out dueled Scherzer in back to back starts. Their first contest was on August 23rd and baseball fans everywhere watched as Aaron completely shut down the Nationals offense. The Nationals were going for the three game sweep and the Phillies biggest weapon stood in their way. All Aaron Nola did that day was hold the Nationals offense to zero runs in eight innings while striking out ten. Sure Max Scherzer was no slouch as he pitched seven innings and only gave up two runs on basically his only mistake of the day. Odubel Herrera hit a two run home run which was the only runs of the game.
Just five days later the aces faced off again and Nola out pitched Scherzer for the second time in a week. In round two Nola pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, only one was earned while Scherzer gave up three runs in five innings and that tied his shortest outing of the season. After that game, Nola actually lowered his ERA to 2.10 and showed the entire baseball community that he actually is having a better season then Scherzer. However, the Phillies bullpen would blow a late lead and cost Aaron a victory and the Nationals actually won it with three runs in the ninth.
Now while having all that momentum and all the confidence should have been a big motivator for Aaron’s performance Sunday against the Chicago Cubs at home he pitched well below his normal skill set. In a huge game at Citizens Bank Park which would have won the series for the Phillies Nola only lasted 5 and 2/3 innings while giving up four runs. He seemed to struggle against a playoff team and the Cubs attacked by hitting two home runs off Nola. Aaron was off to a strong start in the game but the Cubs hitters, the second time around, painted a new picture. After the game Aaron Nola’s ERA rose to 2.23.
Out dueling Scherzer twice in a week would have been huge for Aaron Nola’s chances at his first ever Cy Young award but Sunday’s performance has now put Jacob deGrom seemingly in first place in the Cy Young race. Though Jacob’s win loss record isn’t as good as Nola’s Jacob’s ERA is one of the best ever and there is no doubt if he was on a better team his season would be one of the best ever. The good news is the race isn’t over just yet as Aaron Nola will now face the NL East leading Atlanta Braves after Gabe Kapler shuffled his pitching staff. To win the award, Aaron needs to pitch like he did against Max Scherzer and hope his performance against the Chicago Cubs was just a blimp on the radar for his season.
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