Aaron Nola and Consistency

I struggled to find what to write about on Aaron Nola’s call up.  I wrote a lot of words about him two weeks ago and I didn’t want to rehash it all.  While I was thinking I pulled up his player page and was looking through his velocity since he has been in the system, and the thing that came to mind was consistency.  For Nola this means a couple of things.  The first is that he is going to give you the same arsenal and performance no matter what.  Second is that he still has some consistency to add and that could help bring him up yet another level.  Lastly is that his time in the minors has not for naught, and that gaining consistency on his pitches has made him a better pitcher.  These all fit together with a discussion of Nola’s pitches.

Fastball:

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This is all the data points we have on Nola’s fastball since he was signed by the Phillies.  As you can see he has been incredibly consistent.  This year he has reached back for the higher velocity a little less and has gone to a sharper moving two-seamer at the bottom of the range more, but every time out the core of his outing he is 90-93 with armside run.  There has not be a start since he signed where his velocity has dipped or the movement hasn’t been there.  It gives him a great base off of which to build for each start.  But having a base isn’t everything, you need to build on it.

Changeup:

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The next piece to build on the fastball is the changeup.  This is actually where Nola could use some consistency.  The majority of time his changeup looks a lot like his fastball, only it will drop a bit more causing a hitter looking fastball to swing over top of it.  Sometimes though that drop is always there and hitters looking fastball are able to foul it away.  This will be a big part of his development going forward, get that consistent movement on his changeup.

Curveball:

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The big growth point in the minors for Aaron Nola has been his curveball.  Coming out of college it had a tendency to be a bit slurvy, and even now this causes it to be called a slider.  The reason for this was that he would manipulate his arm slot and with his low delivery end up on the side of the ball.  The result was more lateral than vertical break.  This would leave it going across the zone like a slow slider and leave it very hittable.  The Phillies have worked a lot with him to keep on top of the pitch, and the results have been very positive.  There is still some lateral sweep to his curveball because his arm angle prevents true 12-6 break.  However, there is more downward bite which allows him to break it vertically out of the zone as a chase pitch.  This was something he struggled with this spring and it got loopy at times.  He will still occasionally lose one up or away, but the added consistency makes it a true plus pitch.

Command:

This is where it all comes together.  There is no guesswork with Nola, he is going to be the same guy every time out and that is because he spots everything.  Nola can manipulate and move his pitches to fit his opposition.  He studies his opponents, and if he is vulnerable it is early in the game.  Once he settles in he is very difficult for opposing teams to get a feel for his stuff.

In the end consistency is part of what makes Nola great, it has been a key to his growth this year, and it is the key to his continued development.

Photo By Baseball Betsy

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

7 comments

  1. Romus

    Not sure he throws what people refer to as a slider….more of CB, with his arm angle slot delivery it appears like a slider.
    Do not see any issues getting right-handed MLB batters out….but left-hand batters could prove troublesome for him down the road. Hopefully his ball movement can off-set the looks the lefthand bats will get.
    Of course, last night Rays pitcher Karns took a 91velo FB/sinker yard and he is right hand bat.

  2. abc

    Crossing Broad is worried about Nola’s deliver and the threat of injury. He thinks Nola has a similar delivery to Strasburg. Do you have any insight on this or know someone who does?

    • Matt Winkelman

      I think Crossing Broad is an idiot and anyone who tells you that a pitcher will 100% break is selling you his agenda. Nola has a fairly unique delivery because he has a fairly unique body. He is double jointed in his shoulder and his extremely athletic. He repeats his delivery very well and it is low effort.

      If you want to say Nola will get hurt because pitchers get hurt, you are just betting on numbers so you can look smart later, but there is nothing about Nola that suggests that he is at any great risk.

      • You are quickly becoming my favorite sports writer.

      • Rankorsandwhich

        I second that.

  3. Eagleye5

    I concur. Matt knows his stuff.

  4. lifer711

    Hey Matt, got a quick question for ya, bud. I know you’re an ace when it comes to Phillies prospects but what’s your knowledge on say the top 100 in general. I was looking at possible returns for Hamels and I noticed the Astros were in the mix but we’re reluctant to part with Brett Phillips who a source within the Astros thinks will be “a complete stud”, do you share that sentiment and also if you had to pick a realistic prospect package from the Astros system, what would you choose??

    Thanks, Matt