Back in early August, some Phillies fan had an idea. An idea that was the opposite of any idea any Phillies fan had seemingly ever had.
To say Trea Turner was struggling would be an insult to folks who were merely struggling. He was in the funkiest of funks. To that point, Turner had slashed .217/.271/.357/.628 in his last 91 games, among the worst in the game.
But when Turner stepped out of the on-deck circle back on August 4, the crowd at Citizens Bank Park didn’t boo. They stood and cheered, encouraging Turner to shake his months-long slump.
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It was something most Phillies fans had never seen. And it worked. Since that night, Turner has the highest OPS in the game (1.146), and more home runs (16) than anyone except his teammateKyle Schwarber.
The fans’ display of empathy and support dragged Turner out of what was likely the worst funk of his fantastic career. But there’s another Phillies player who needs our help, folks.
Aaron Nola has heard your cheers before on many occasions; he’s earned them. No matter what you think of him, he’s one of the best starting pitchers in franchise history. However, his inconsistent season has taken a downturn. He hasn’t made it through five innings in his last three starts. He’s lugging an ERA of 8.56 in his three September starts.
Turner hadn’t given fans much to cheer about this season before August 4, yet fans opened their hearts and raised their voices in support. So why not Nola, a homegrown player who has had more successes than failures in his nine seasons with the Phillies?
It was only last season that Nola finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, the third time in his career he’s been in the top-10 in the voting.
His 90 wins are seventh-most among Phillies pitchers since 1900. His WAR is seventh-highest in team history (31.5). Only four pitchers in franchise history have more strikeouts than his 1,566.
So why are fans so hesitant to embrace him? Perhaps it’s because analysts have described him as an “ace,” so the expectations are higher. That’s fair. But it’s also even more reason to step up and show him the love he has earned throughout his career.
Still not convinced? Let’s look at his numbers over the past six seasons, from the start of 2018, and where he ranks among all pitchers who have started 100 games or more:
- Starts: 173 (1st)
- Innings: 1,052.2 (2nd)
- Strikeouts: 1,193 (3rd)
- Wins: 66 (t-5th)
- Avg run support: 5.11 (34th)
During this upcoming homestand, Nola will start what could be his final regular-season home start at Citizens Bank Park. It could be a game the Phillies need to clinch a playoff berth, or the top wild card seed. When Nola takes the hill, show him some love. If he lets a couple runners on, get behind him. If he gives up a home run, cheer louder.
If it worked for Turner, it could work for Nola. And you can tell everyone how you helped turn his season around. And who knows? Maybe it will give him a reason to stick around beyond this year.