Editor's Note: This is the 18th in a series of looks at the men who suited up for the 2016 Philadelphia Phillies. Taylor Featherston was the last player profiled.
Aaron Nola is supposed to be a linchpin in the Phillies' future success. The former 7th overall pick had a strong rookie campaign, logging a 6-2 mark with a 3.59 ERA, a 4.04 FIP, a stingy 2.2 walks per nine innings and a respectable 7.9 strikeouts per nine. He was just 23 when the season began.
And he looked like a cornerstone.
Through 12 starts, Nola had a 5-4 mark and a 2.65 ERA. He'd tossed at least 100 pitches in five starts. He'd struck out seven or more batters in seven starts. He'd walked two or fewer batters in all but one start. He'd given up five home runs in 84 frames. His fastball darted. His curveball bit.
A possible ace was in the making.
At that point in the season, the Phillies were a surprising 28-29.
After that point, the Phillies would go 43-62 and Nola would get roughed up, to the tune of a 9.82 ERA and opponents hitting .367 with a .531 slugging mark.
It would turn out the right-hander was pitching through some elbow issues and Nola would go on the disabled list on July 28 and not pitch again. He had a low-grade sprain of his UCL and a low-grade strain of his flexor pronator tendon.
His future is in doubt.
Now, I'm not as concerned as most. I don't think this definitely means Tommy John surgery is in his future. Then again, I'm no doctor. I understand the surgery is more likely than with someone who hasn't strained those tendons.
One good note is the Phillies haven't shied away from promoting Nola in the lead up to the 2017 season. He's attending an autograph signing with Tommy Joseph on Wednesday at Citizens' Bank Park and will be at a couple of banquets in Reading and Allentown.
2016 grade: C
Will we see him in 2017: If all goes well, he'll make 28 or more starts.