BRADENTON, Fla. — Joe Girardi didn’t see the need to drag out the suspense. Not when the calendar makes it so clear.
Aaron Nola will be the Phillies’ starter on opening day.
“It’s looking like that’s how it’s going to line up, yeah,” Girardi said after the Phillies played a rain-shortened 3-3 tie with the Pirates here Thursday. “That’s what’s going to happen, so you can make the assumption.”
It will mark Nola’s fifth consecutive opening-day start, the longest streak by a Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton started 10 openers in a row from 1977-86.
Nola is scheduled for two more spring-training starts, which puts him in line for the April 8 opener against the Oakland Athletics at Citizens Bank Park.
On the mound: Facing many of the Pirates regulars, Nola gave up two solo home runs for the second start in a row. Yoshi Tsutsugo hammered a fastball in the second inning before Greg Allen hit a sinker in the third.
“I felt like I was getting strike one, strike two pretty quick, getting ahead of guys,” said Nola, whose opening-day nod will come in part because Cy Young runner-up Zack Wheeler is lagging behind the other pitchers because of offseason shoulder soreness. “I felt good.”
Who stood out: With Odúbel Herrera set to begin the season on the injured list, Mickey Moniak has rejoined the competition for a roster spot. Moniak helped his cause with a game-tying homer to center field in the fifth inning against Pirates reliever Roansy Contreras. Moniak and Adam Haseley may be duking it out to be the lefty-hitting side of a center-field platoon with Matt Vierling.
Etc.: For all the chatter about the Phillies’ big boppers, don’t sleep on Jean Segura’s potential impact near the top of the order. He led off the fourth inning against Contreras and worked an eight-pitch walk before Rhys Hoskins’ two-run homer. Segura batted .294 with an .804 on-base plus slugging as the No. 2 hitter last year and could return to that spot to further lengthen the lineup.
Quotable: “Great swing. We really like the little adjustments that he’s made. He’s gotten closer to the plate, he’s not crossing over now. We think it’s going to pay big dividends.” — Girardi on Moniak’s improvements from last season
Up next: Kyle Gibson will make his second Grapefruit League start Friday against the Yankees’ Luis Severino at 1:05 p.m. in Clearwater. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia+.