Heading into the 2017 season, we here at Crashburn Alley strive to update you on a specific storyline regarding many of the returning staples from last season’s roster. Today is starting pitcher Aaron Nola.
A lot of what I said in my season preview for Jerad Eickhoff could be repeated for Aaron Nola. He’s got the stellar curveball, so-so fastball, and not good changeup. Nola both strikes out and walks slightly more hitters, which gives both players near identical career K/BB rates just below 4.00. However, Nola has allowed more home runs per fly ball, and he just came off a season with a near-5 ERA.
Based on that paragraph alone, you might conclude that Eickhoff is the better pitcher right now, and you might be right, but that misses three important pieces of information about Nola that set him apart from his rotation-mate:
- Due to his sinking fastball, Nola had a 55% ground ball rate (GB%) in 2016, compared to Eickhoff’s 41%. The league average is about 45%.
- Nola had a strand rate (LOB%) of just 60% last year, while Eickhoff’s 76% was just above the league average of 73%.
- Nola has dealt with injuries that may have affected his effectiveness.