What They’re Saying About Aaron Nola

The Phils' rookie shines in debut, but takes the loss.
Jul 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) before a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola (27) before a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Citizens Bank Park. Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

He lost the game. But he gave up just one run. But that one run was a home run given up to the other team’s pitcher.

Aaron Nola’s Tuesday night debut for the Phillies — and all the hopes for the future he represents in an otherwise-lost season — was a slightly mixed bag (he lost 1-0) but it gave many observers more reasons for optimism than pessimism about the team’s future.

Here’s what they’re saying:

The Good Phight said it’s about time:  “It took nine years, but the Phillies finally had their most anticipated homegrown starting pitcher debut since Hamels in the form of Aaron Nola Tuesday night. … This night was all about Nola, and the park had a bit of extra electricity in it to reflect the presence of the lanky righty. The Phillies announced attendance at 28,703, one of their bigger crowds of the season. That sentence is quite sad, as that passes for a decent crowd in 2015, but it’s fair to say Nola probably brought in an extra 5,000 fans to the ballpark, something the Phillies won’t complain about it.”

The Bleacher Report liked what it saw: The 22-year-old right-hander served up plenty of highlights. Here’s one that felt particularly indicative of his sky-high potential: In the top of the fifth, with runners on first and second and two outs, Nola got Steven Souza Jr. swinging on a nasty off-speed pitch to escape the jam. It was a fleeting moment, sure, and wound up being merely a footnote. But it showcased the whole package—poise, stuff, execution—that should have the Phillies thinking happy thoughts.

Deadspin couldn’t quite believe the run he did give up: “Phillies super-prospect Aaron Nola made his major league debut tonight, and through six innings gave up a single run. That first-ever run allowed was a home run to opposing pitcher Nate Karns. It was the first hit, let alone home run, of Karns’s career, and the first hit for a Rays pitcher since July of last season. It was also the first home run by an American League pitcher since Zach Britton went deep in 2011.”

CSNPhilly’s Jim Salisbury was glad Nola wasn’t rocked by that home run: “Nola did not let the home run ruin the good vibe of his night — and he was right not to. He gave up just five hits, walked one and struck out six while throwing 88 pitches. His fastball reached 94 mph and sat in the 91-mph range. As advertised, his command of the pitch was exceptional. The guy paints, as they say. ‘He had great poise and mound presence,’ said Pete Mackanin, the Phillies’ interim manager. ‘I couldn’t be happier with his performance.’”

DN’s David Murphy enjoys imagining the future: “The law of averages suggests that the Phillies will score a run for him at some point during that stretch, but it really doesn’t matter, because the fun from here on out lies not in wins and losses. Instead, it lies in watching a bona fide big-league starter in his first go-around against big-league hitters and then imagining what it will look like when he has a legitimate team around him.”