You probably don’t remember the eight scoreless innings Aaron Nola threw in his first start last September or the seven-inning shutout he pitched 10 days later. No, the defining image of Nola’s September was him sitting in the dugout after failing to finish four innings in a series finale that the Phillies needed to win to reach the playoffs.
The Phillies lost each of Nola’s final three starts last September as they faded once again in the season’s final month. For his career, Nola has a 4.28 ERA in September, easily the highest monthly ERA in his career. He’ll have a chance this month to redefine his September legacy as the Phillies find themselves in a playoff chase. His first start in September is Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park, but we’ll likely remember Nola more for how he finishes the month than how he begins it.
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Former Phillies catcher Bob Boone is quitting his Nationals front-office job because he’s not getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
Here’s the Phillies’ path to the playoffs and how they stack up against other teams in the hunt.
Catcher Rafael Marchán is getting his chance to make an impression with the Phillies this month. So far, so good.
Today: Phillies go for a sweep in D.C., 1:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Phils open three-game series in Miami, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday: Ranger Suarez faces the Marlins, 6:10 p.m.
Sunday: Zack Wheeler starts series finale in Miami, 1:10 p.m.
Monday: Phils open three-game series in Milwaukee, 2:10 p.m.
Stat of the day
How good was Bryce Harper’s August? His OPS last month (1.231) was the fourth highest in franchise history among players who had at least 50 plate appearances in August. He is one of just two Phillies to have 10 homers and 25 RBIs in two separate Augusts, joining Ryan Howard. Howard drove in 41 runs — an insane number — in August 2006.
From the mailbag
Send questions by email or on Twitter @matt_breen.
Question: Re: Marchan’s future: If, as assumed, the NL does the DH next season, why not keep Marchan as a catcher and make JT the regular DH? Or at least the primary DH? — Chuck D. via Twitter
Answer: Thanks, Chuck. It’s a good idea, but the Phillies are paying Realmuto $115.5 million over five years because they believe he’s the best catcher — offensively and defensively — in baseball. That’s a lot to pay for a designated hitter, especially one who has an OPS just 15% better than the league average since joining the Phillies.
Realmuto is a good offensive player, but it’s his whole game that makes him special. The Phillies need him behind the plate as much as possible, so you’ll see him play DH next season only as a way to keep his body fresh. Scott Lauber wrote a nice piece last week about the potential of Rhys Hoskins being used as the DH.