Nola looks ready for Opening Day; Philies cruise over Nats

Phillies ace Aaron Nola
Aaron Nola showed Saturday night that he's fit to start for the Phillies on Opening Day. The ace notched 17 outs on just 62 pitches in a Phillies 7-2 victory over Washington at Nationals Park.

“I thought his changeup was outstanding," manager Joe Girardi said afterward. "He was ahead in the count all night. It was just really a good performance.”

Nola threw five scoreless innings and collected four strikeouts.

“We had planned four [innings] and 70 [pitches], and his pitch count was so low that we had to get some extra outs in the innings, and we let him get five and we really felt comfortable with what he did,” Girardi said.

Didi Gregorius and Bryce Harper each homered for the Phillies in the winning effort.

“I think you want guys to take advantage of mistakes, no matter what part of the season it is,” Girardi said. “I liked our at-bats. He settled down and we saw the real Max Scherzer, but when you have a starter of that caliber, if you don’t get to him early, you’re not getting to him. And our guys were able to do that. And that’s encouraging.”

Eflin update
Zach Eflin tossed a simulated game on Saturday and looked good, according to Girardi. He'll pitch again on Thursday with the idea of joining the backend of the rotation next week.

Roster moves
The Phillies announced several roster moves on Saturday, including the release of veterans Logan Forsythe and Francisco Liriano. The club optioned right-hander VĂ­ctor Arano to Triple-A, but Girardi called it a procedural move. He believes Arano can make two more appearances before Opening Day and still has an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster.

The club also announced infielder Neil Walker has secured a spot on the Opening Day roster.

“His versatility of where he can play and also his versatility as a switch-hitter,” Girardi said. “We thought he was a good fit.”

Up next
The Phillies will host the Orioles on Saturday night before heading to New York for a contest with the Yankees on Monday.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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