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Saturday, April 28, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STOCK WATCH: AARON NOLA SP PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Heading into the 2018 fantasy baseball, annual favorite of this peanut stand Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies was a big target of mine yet again when it came to drafts.  Unfortunately, the price on Nola became so high after years of being able to steal him late that he went out of my range and so I own no shares of the guy this season in my two competitive leagues despite my ending admiration/love for the guy.  While Nola is off to a nice start as he currently sits with a 2.58 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, there are some things about his season so far that have drawn my attention. 

Now on the surface, there is no quibbling with Nola's tremendous ratios to begin the season and it shows just how tough a pitcher he is for an opposing hitter in any one of his given starts.  Underneath the surface though, there are a few items that deserve a closer look and the first centers on Nola's ugly strikeouts numbers so far.  Going into his next outing, Nola currently sits with a BELOW-average 6.57 K/9 and that in fact is a mark you would typically see out of a classic soft-tosser.  This after Nola hinted at a possible run at 200 strikeouts going forward when he put forth a sparkling 9.86 K/9 last season in his big breakout (3.54 ERA).  What is doubly interesting is that Nola's velocity checks out as his current average of 93.1 on his fastball is UP from a year ago when he was at 92.7.  So what gives there?  My theory is that opposing hitters have figured out a tell on Nola and that they are not swinging as aggressively this time around. With more and more video of Nola circulating around, it is now up to him to get that swinging rate back up.  A second issue that caught my attention is Nola's very lucky .235 BABIP.  That number is in no way sustainable and Nola's FIP (3.25) and XFIP (3.95) indicate trouble ahead. 

Now on the flip side, Nola is showing tremendous control with a 2.35 BB/9 and his 0.47 HR/9 is absolutely terrific and very important considering he operates in a home ballpark that gives up a lot of homers.  So Nola is pitching very well on some fronts but not on others.  When everything is taken into consideration, I think Nola will be just fine in terms of his overall product and that the K's will come forward as the weather continues to heat up.  Nola has always done his best K work the second half of the season and that should be the case yet again.  If you are holding stock in Nola. I would keep him around and not entertain offers despite the fact he should give back his ERA a bit due to the lucky BABIP.  The guy will be a strong SP 2 when you take it in all in so stay the course. 


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