Aaron Nola left the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday with a 7-1 lead and nine strikeouts. Even as Matt Strahm allowed an inherited runner to score, Nola's final line of 5.2 innings, two runs and nine strikeouts was more than enough to earn the standing ovation he received leaving the field.
An upcoming free agent, Aaron Nola's two performances this postseason has helped to boost his stock after an uneasy regular season.
Nola ended the regular season with an unlucky 4.46 ERA (3.77 xERA), despite striking out 202 batters in 193.2 innings. Since 2018, Nola has struck out more than 200 batters in each full season, and has not run a WHIP higher than his 1.27 mark in 2019. Still, Nola has been stricken by the home run ball, allowing a career-high 32 this season. Ahead of the 2019 season, Nola signed a four-year, $45 million deal, buying out two years of free agency. In hindsight, this deal favored the Philadelphia Phillies immensely as Nola earned a career-high $16 million this season.
On the open market, especially in a weaker free agency class, Nola is expected to command a nine-figure deal. Nola will turn 31 next season, which should guarantee at least a six-year commitment from his new team. An average annual value of at least $20 million is certainly in play here, although an AAV of $30 million may be a bit unrealistic. The good news is for Nola and prospective bidders for his services is that his velocity has held relatively steady since signing the extension, and he has never really relied on brute velocity alone to be successful.
According to Eno Sarris' Stuff+ model, Nola's Location+ of 107 ranks fourth amongst qualified pitchers this season. On changeups, no qualified pitcher located their cambio better than Nola.