The 2018 season for the Philadelphia Phillies opened up with a wasted start from Aaron Nola.
We already knew that new manager Gabe Kapler would bring methods that we are not used to, but today’s decision with Nola may have blown the game.
After throwing just 68 pitches through 5 1/3 innings, Nola was replaced by left handed pitcher Hoby Milner. Before leaving the game, the Opening Day starter had yet to allow a run while posting 3 strikeouts and allowing only one walk. After Kapler pulled Nola with a runner on second base, Milner gave up a two-run home run to Freddie Freeman.
No matter who the starting pitcher was, a move like that was unnecessary. Throughout the dominant start, Nola was proving that he will be a top of a rotation pitcher for many years to come. With that being said, no manager should pull their Opening Day starter after just 68 pitches without allowing a run.
After Nola’s day came to an end, five other pitchers threw for the Phillies. The combination of Hoby Milner, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos, and Hector Neris gave up 7 runs on 9 hits and 4 walks. Those cringe worthy numbers came in just 3 2/3 innings of work. Neris was hurt the most when he allowed the Braves to win the game thanks to a three-run walk off home run by Nick Markakis.
Not only was Nola pulled before allowing a run, he was pulled when he had a 5 run lead to work with. You could make an argument for Kapler’s decision if the Phillies only led by 1 run, but that was not the case. The bats came alive in the top of the 6th inning with a Cesar Hernandez home run, a Maikel Franco bases loaded walk and a 2 run single by catcher Andrew Knapp. It seemed like the big inning would have been more than enough for Nola had he been left in the game.
Not being able to score a run the rest of the game adds to the Phillies disappointing loss, but not scoring late should not take the blame today. The blame should stay on Kapler for a quick triggered decision. We should not overreact to just one game especially the first game of the season with a new manager and a boat load of young players. However, the fears that surrounded Kapler and the possibility of over thinking in some situations, seemed to come true today.
We don’t know what would have happened had Nola stayed in the game, but the way he had pitched up until that point will cause us to question the next move Kapler decides to make. This will be something we all need to get used to, the players included. Until Kapler makes a decision that seems to win the Phillies a game, we will all have our doubts.
– Andrew Salciunas – Phillies Contributor for 975thefanatic.com
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