WASHINGTON - Aaron Nola's promising rookie season ended with five scoreless innings Saturday against the Washington Nationals.
The Phillies brass on Sunday morning informed Nola, the organization's top young arm, that the team was shutting him down for the season. The 22-year-old righthander, who would have made only one more start before Sunday's season finale, logged 187 innings in his first full professional season.
"He did everything we could've expected and more," Phillies interim general manager Scott Proefrock said. "He showed why he was drafted where he was drafted and how highly regarded he was. He's made a very favorable impression on all of us. So hopefully he can be a big part of what we want to do here in the future."
Nola, the seventh overall pick in last year's draft, said he understood the decision. He made 13 major-league starts and compiled a 3.59 ERA over 772/3 innings after the Phillies promoted him from triple A in July. He began the season in double A.
"As a competitor, of course, I don't want to stop," he said. "I want to finish the year, but throwing a lot of innings was helpful for me this year. I want to add onto that next year, especially at this level. I want to throw it all at this level, and I'm going to work my hardest to do that."
There will be no restrictions on Nola next season, expected to be his first full big-league campaign. Proefrock said there should be no reason why Nola can't eclipse 200 innings.
The Phillies plan to fill Nola's spot in the rotation on Friday with a bullpen game.
The expectation is Ryan Howard will return to the field during the Phillies' final six-game homestand that begins Tuesday, Proefrock said. Howard, who has not played since Sept. 14 because of a left knee bruise, took batting practice, fielded ground balls. and ran this weekend in Washington.
Maikel Franco is slated to garner five at-bats in an instructional league game in Clearwater, Fla., on Monday. If all goes well, he could also return to the team this week.
Domonic Brown's season is over, but he will see action in instructional league games to clear baseball's concussion protocol. Brown is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time this winter. Given his struggles the last two seasons, it is likely that the Phillies will not tender him an offer, which would make him a free agent.