Blue Jays Opposing Pitcher Report: Aaron Nola

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Pitcher Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during the second inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on May 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Pitcher Aaron Nola #27 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during the second inning of a game at Citizens Bank Park on May 13, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Saturday, May 26, the Blue Jays play the middle game of a short inter-league series in Philadelphia. The Blue Jays recently announced that Jaime Garcia will be activated off the DL for the start. The Phillies will counter the veteran lefty with Aaron Nola.

Aaron Nola was drafted by the Phillies seventh overall in the 2014 amateur players draft. After quickly moving through the minor leagues, Nola made his major league debut in the 2015 season.

Nola has started the season red-hot, allowing one or no earned runs in half of his ten starts. Also impressively, the righty has pitched seven or more complete innings in half of his ten starts, as well. Overall, the right-hander has been worth a great 1.8 fWAR, while posting a 6-2 record, 2.37 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, and 162 ERA+.

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Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, Nola has torn through the bats of right-handed batters. Through ten starts, righty’s hold a .196/.216/.321 slash line with 41 strikeouts and just two walks. Conversely, lefties hold a better .256/.323/.291 slash with just 16 strikeouts to 12 walks.

Nola uses a simple repertoire of pitches, mixing between a fastball, curveball, change-up, and sinker. The righty favours the fastball variations (four-seamer/sinker), but for the most part, he spreads out usage between his pitches.

The righty has used his four-seam fastball 34.2% of the time this year, averaging a velocity of 93.22 mph. The four-seamer has allowed a mediocre .247 BAA, but it has limited hard contact, producing just three extra-base hits out of 21 total hits, leading to a small .306 SLGA.

The right-hander throws hooks 28.6% of the time. The curve averages a velocity of 76.9 mph with good glove sidecut and drop. As a result of this great movement, the curve has produced 21 strikeouts, the most out of all of Nola’s offerings.

The young righty uses his change-up 22% of the time while averaging a velocity of 83.9 mph. Unlike most change-ups, Nola’s off-speed pitch produces a high amount of ground balls. In fact, it has produced ground balls on 69.23% of balls in play, the most out of everything the righty offers.

Nola completes his pitching repertoire with a sinker that averages a velocity of 91.38 mph. Featured 15.2% of the time, Nola creates a great arm-side run with his sinker, producing ground balls on 60.71% of balls in play. Interestingly, the sinker is the only pitch that has not allowed a home run this season.

As evidenced by his pitch offerings, Nola primarily pitches to ground balls. This season the righty has produced ground balls at a great rate of 50%. Impressively, despite pitching to contact, Nola’s OPP AVG is still a strong .223.

Nola also excels at keeping the ball out of the seats. This season, the righty has posted a great 0.56 HR/9, a rate just outside top 10 in the league. As well, he has limited walks to a good rate of 5.7%.

The Blue Jays have some, but very limited experience against Nola. Most notably, in three career at-bats against the righty, Josh Donaldson has three hits, including a home run and three walks. However, Curtis Granderson has just two hits in 9 at-bats and Yangervis Solarte has one hit in six.

Next: Blue Jays: Interview with Prospect Joshua Palacios

The Blue Jays draw a difficult matchup in Aaron Nola. Timely hitting will be integral for a Blue Jays victory Saturday afternoon. As well, Jaime Garcia will need to have a good start to keep the game close.