Aaron Nola to make history in Phillies' season opener

Aaron Nola set to make history as Phillies Opening Day starter
Aaron Nola will make history on Thursday, becoming the youngest starting pitcher in 54 years to start on Opening Day for the Phillies.

The 24-year-old right-hander quickly ascended through the minor league ranks and pieced together a breakout year last season, making 27 starts while posting a more than respectable 3.54 ERA. He averaged better than a strikeout an inning and strung together a streak of 10 consecutive starts of pitching six innings while surrendering two runs or fewer.

Nola has proven he's deserving of the opportunity to be the Phillies' Opening Day starter. He's a top-15 arm with the potential to be a perennial All-Star.

There were bumps along the way, particularly in 2016 when he missed the final two months of the season with an elbow injury and ended the year with a 4.78 ERA over 20 starts, but it made him stronger mentally and physically.

"When you're young you take things for granted," Nola said. "You learn around here though that you can't ever do that. You need to work and persevere to make good things happen. Sometimes an injury is a catalyst to get you to think differently."

Nola bulked up following the 2016 season and continued his regiment this past offseason.

"I feel great," Nola said. "The lats, the triceps, my shoulder. I tried to build my back up as much as I could. My legs. I worked on my calves. After the injury, I got a lot smarter in my workouts. In some ways, the injury was a blessing in disguise."

Nola will feel a little less pressure with former Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta by his side in the rotation, but that's not to say he's expecting any less of himself in 2018.

"Constantly be improving, that's my goal," Nola said. "It's easy to become complacent, but that's not me. This team is set up to do some really special things and I'm thrilled to be a part of that."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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