The struggles that Aaron Nola has gone through of late seemed to have everybody guessing about what the problem was. One potential explanation was offered Wednesday when he was scratched from his scheduled start against the Giants and placed on the DL with a right elbow strain. During Nola's last start, his fastball velocity dropped to a low for him and after the game, he told team trainers that he felt some "discomfort" in his elbow. The Phillies had an MRI done Wednesday morning, which Nola said didn't disclose any ligament damage, but did show a "mild strain."
To take Nola's spot in the rotation for Wednesday night's start, the Phillies recalled Phil Klein from Lehigh Valley. Klein had been claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in June and initially worked out of the IronPigs bullpen, but was moved into the rotation a month ago. He has thrown a high of 77 pitches, which came in his last start July 29th at Rochester.
It's likely that prospect Jake Thompson will take Nola's spot in the rotation long term. Thompson has an 11-5 record with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts for Lehigh Valley this season and is the organization's top pitching prospect. After the all-star break, the Phillies lined up Thompson with Jeremy Hellickson so the two would start on the same day, in anticipation of Hellickson potentially being traded. Thompson's last start was on Sunday and he is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley again on Friday against the Rochester Red Wings.
While Nola told reporters that he's optimistic about returning to the mound this season, the timetable could make it pretty difficult. It's expected that Nola will miss somewhere around three weeks, but he would then need time to rebuild his arm strength and the Phillies would likely be very cautious. It may make sense for them to shut him down for the rest of the season to be sure he is healthy and ready for Spring Training.
Nola had a 2.65 ERA on June 5th and has seen it balloon to 4.78 after his last start in Atlanta.He had an ERA of 10.42 in June and a 6.30 ERA in July with the Phillies. Nola had his start just prior to the all-star break skipped and was then scheduled late in the rotation out of the break to give him time off, in hopes of getting him back on track. In his first start back, he threw six shutout innings against Miami, but struggled again since then.
The Phillies also placed closer Jeanmar Gomez on the Paternity League list and recalled reliever Michael Mariot from Lehigh Valley. Mariot took over as the closer for the IronPigs when Luis Garcia was recalled on Tuesday, and notched his first save of the season Tuesday night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, helping Lehigh Valley to move into sole possession of first place.