Posted on April 24, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Philadelphia Phillies have placed starting pitcher Aaron Nola on the 10-day DL due to a lower back strain. Nola last pitched on Thursday, and according to Phillies GM Matt Klentak, he felt soreness in his lower back despite showing no signs of trouble in five innings against the Mets. His DL stint will be retroactive to Friday, meaning he can return as early as May 1. However, the Phillies expect him to miss at least one or two starts.
“Aaron experienced soreness in his lower back during his start on Thursday,” Klentak said in a statement. “After receiving treatment over the last few days, the symptoms improved, but he still felt some tightness during his side session yesterday. Our hope and expectation is that this will not be a lengthy DL placement and that Aaron will miss only one or two starts.”
Nola is considered one of Philadelphia’s most promising your arms. In 20 starts last year, he posted a modest 4.78 ERA before being shut down for the rest of the season with elbow pain. He was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts this season. Behind a solid effort from their rotation, including Nola, the Phillies are currently riding a four-game winning streak, putting them at .500 and third in the NL East three weeks into the season.
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Even if Nola only misses a start or two, his absence will further challenge Philadelphia’s rotation depth. The Phillies have already lost veteran Clay Buchholz to an arm injury that may keep him out for the rest of the season. Fortunately, Zach Efflin has done a fine job of filling in for Buchholz thus far.
The Phillies are yet to announce Nola’s replacement for his next scheduled start Wednesday against the Marlins. However, it’s likely to be rookie Nick Pivetta, who impressed the team in three outings during spring training. In his first three starts of the season at triple-A, Pivetta is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA, striking out 24 in 19 innings of work. MLB.com ranks him as the 12th best prospect in Philadelphia’s farm system.
“Very crisp breaking ball, location has been really good,” Klentak said of Pivetta over the weekend. “He’s growing up as a pitcher. He’s been pretty outstanding so far through three starts. We’re pretty pleased with that.”
Of course, with Monday being an off-day for the team, the Phillies can move all of their starters up a day and keep them on regular rest, meaning they won’t need a fifth starter until Saturday. That could give them more options for the vacant rotation spot beyond Pivetta, who has not only excelled early in the season but is scheduled to pitch Wednesday on regular rest anyway. If that’s the case, Ben Lively and Mark Appel could also be considered to start in Nola’s place.
In any event, Nola’s injury will allow the Phillies to get a close-up look at another one of their young starters, which could be seen as a silver lining. The Phillies can’t be excited about losing Nola to another stint on the DL, even if it’s a brief one. However, it could help the development of one of their other young arms, which could pay off for the rebuilding Phillies down the line.