Nola with the Philadelphia Phillies
|Philadelphia Phillies – No. 27|
|Born: June 4, 1993|
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
|July 21, 2015, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|MLB statistics |
(through August 20, 2019)
|Earned run average||3.39|
|Career highlights and awards|
Nola played college baseball at Louisiana State University (LSU). He was drafted by the Phillies in the first round, seventh overall pick in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. Nola made his major league debut in 2015. He was a 2018 National League All Star, and came in third in the voting for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award.
Nola was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is the youngest son of A.J., who runs his own remodeling and construction company while also coaching baseball, and Stacie Nola, a part-time secretary. His maternal grandfather, Richard Barrios, was the Louisiana House of Representatives sergeant at arms. His older brother Austin Nola is a former Louisiana State University All-American shortstop (2009–12), and also plays professional baseball; he made his major league debut with the Seattle Mariners in 2019.
Nola played baseball at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. In 2009 he was 7–1 with a 1.85 earned run average (ERA), in 2010 he was 7–0 with a 1.50 ERA and was All-State, and in 2011 he was 7–1 with a 1.00 ERA as he also hit .364 with four home runs. He was named Class 5A State Player of the Year by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association, and voted “Mr. Baseball” for the State of Louisiana.
He decided not to sign when he was drafted out of high school, and instead attended Louisiana State University (LSU) to major in Sports Administration-Commerce, and play college baseball for the LSU Tigers.
As a freshman in 2012, Nola pitched to a 7–4 win–loss record with a 3.61 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 89 2⁄3 innings pitched. He led the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in fewest walks allowed and in batters struck out looking (40), was 9th in overall strikeouts, and was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team. That summer, Nola was selected by USA Baseball to play for the United States collegiate national baseball team.
During his sophomore year, on April 22, 2013, Nola shared the SEC Pitcher of the Week Award with Bobby Wahl of the Ole Miss Rebels. For his sophomore season, Nola went 12–1 with a 1.57 ERA, 18 walks, and 122 strikeouts (leading the SEC) in 126 innings pitched, as his 12 wins were third in the conference and he held batters to a .188 batting average (the second-lowest in the SEC). He was named an All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Baseball America, and Collegiate Baseball. He was also the SEC Pitcher of the Year. He received the 2013 Corbett Award as the best amateur athlete in the State of Louisiana.
As a junior in 2014, he pitched to an 11–1 record with a 1.47 ERA, 27 walks, 134 strikeouts, and a .172 opponent batting average in 116.1 innings. He led the SEC in strikeouts, ERA, and opponent batting average, and was 3rd in the country in strikeouts. Nola again won the SEC Pitcher of the Year Award, as well as the National Pitcher of the Year Award. He was also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He shared an apartment that season with teammate and future fellow major league All Star Alex Bregman. He finished his three-year LSU career 30–6 (tied for 5th in LSU career wins), with 345 strikeouts (3rd) and a 2.09 ERA (tied for 4th).
Nola was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the first round, seventh overall, in the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. He signed with the Phillies on June 10, for a $3.3 million signing bonus.
In 2014 pitching for the Clearwater Threshers in the Class A-Advanced Florida State League, Nola was 2–3 with a 3.16 ERA. He then pitched for the Reading Fightin Phils in the Double-A Eastern League, and was 2–0 with a 2.63 ERA. Former Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg opined, "He's just showed a good power arm, a real good fastball. It's a quick move for him, but he was ready for it." Nola was an MiLB.com 2014 Philadelphia Organization All Star.
Nola began the 2015 season back with the Reading Fightin Phils, making 12 starts and going 7–3 with a 1.88 ERA. He was then promoted to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the Class AAA International League, with whom he was 3–1 with a 3.58 ERA. Nola was a 2015 Baseball America Double-A All Star, and a 2015 All-Star Futures Game selection.
Nola made his major league debut for the Phillies on July 21, 2015, the 9th-youngest player in the National League, and the first Phillies pitcher to make his major league debut within one year after being drafted since 1989. He lost, 1–0, in his debut when he surrendered the game's only run on a solo home run to the opposing pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays' Nate Karns. He earned his first victory less than a week later, pitching 72⁄3 innings in the Phillies' 11–5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on July 26. Nola contributed to his own cause with an RBI single in the game. He finished the 2015 season 6–2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts.
Nola began the 2016 season in the Phillies rotation. After posting an 0–2 record with a 5.68 ERA in his first three starts, Nola went on a tear over his next nine starts, going 5–2 with a 1.68 ERA in 59 innings with 61 strikeouts and giving up just four home runs. He struggled over his next eight starts though, pitching to a 9.82 ERA, a 1–5 record, a .367 opponents batting average and managing just one quality start, raising his ERA in that span from 2.65 to 4.78. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list August 3 with a strain in his right elbow, and was shut down for the rest of the season. Despite Nola's mediocre 4.78 ERA and 6–9 record, his 121 strikeouts in 111 innings (9.81 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched; at the time, 6th-best for any Phillies pitcher ever) and 3.08 FIP (fielding independent pitching) showed signs of promise.
Nola experienced a turnaround in the 2017 season. Although he began the season with a 5.06 ERA in his first five starts, he went 10–8 with a 3.18 ERA the rest of the way. He threw a career-high eight innings against the Atlanta Braves in a 3–1 win on June 6. From June 22 to August 12 Nola posted 10 straight starts of at least six innings pitched and no more than two runs allowed (posting a 6–2 record and 1.71 ERA in that span), a franchise record.
Nola finished the 2017 season 12–11 with a 3.54 ERA in 168 innings (27 starts), limiting opponents to a .241 batting average. He had 9.857 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (7th in the National League; 6th-best for any Phillies pitcher ever), 3.755 strikeouts/walk (8th), and gave up 1.208 walks plus hits per inning pitched and 0.964 home runs per 9 innings pitched (9th). On defense, he led NL pitchers with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.
On May 9, 2018, Nola struck out a career-high 12 batters against the San Francisco Giants, in seven innings. He was named to the 2018 National League All Star team after posting an 11–2 record and 2.41 ERA in his first 18 starts of the season. On July 9, Nola notched his 36th career win in a 3–1 victory over the New York Mets, tying him with Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander for most wins in a Phillies pitcher's first 79 career starts. With this win, Nola also became the first Phillies pitcher to earn 12 wins and have an ERA under 3.50 in the team's first 89 games of a season since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1916.
For the 2018 season, he was 17–6 in 33 starts (2nd in the National League), with a 2.37 ERA (2nd) in 212.1 innings (3rd). Nola gave up 0.975 walks plus hits per inning pitched (3rd in the league; and 2nd-best for any Phillies pitcher in the prior 100 years). His 17 wins, .739 win-loss percentage, and 6.316 hits given up per 9 innings pitched (4th-best for any Phillies pitcher ever) were all 4th in the NL, he had 224 strikeouts and gave up 0.721 home runs per 9 innings pitched (5th), and his 2.458 walks per 9 innings pitched, 9.495 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched, and 3.862 strikeouts/walk were 8th in the league. He had the second-highest ground ball percentage among National League pitchers (50.6%), behind only teammate Jake Arrieta. Nola held left-handed batters to a .187 batting average, the lowest average among all major league pitchers and the lowest by a Phillies pitcher since the data began to be tracked in 1974.a He joined Grover Cleveland Alexander as the only Phillies pitchers to strike out 200 or more batters and hold opponents to a batting average of .200 or lower in a season, and became the fourth Phillies pitcher to strike out 224 or batters in a season, joining Alexander, Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, and Curt Schilling.
On February 13, 2019, Nola signed a four-year, $45 million extension with the Phillies. The deal includes a club option for a fifth year that's worth $16 million, with a $4.25 million buyout. For the second consecutive season, Nola started for the Phillies on Opening Day, earning the win in a 10–4 defeat of the Atlanta Braves.
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