In 2011, Nola's senior year at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he committed to a baseball scholarship to Louisiana State University. And in June 2011, Aaron passed up the Blue Jays offer after they chose him in the 22nd round.
In 2011, Nola had been named the Louisiana Class 5A State Player of the Year by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association, and was the state’s Mr. Baseball as well.
Aaron's father is in the construction business, but his passion, too, is baseball. And Dad was the coach until their high school years for both Aaron and Austin, a catcher in the Mariners organization.
In 2012 at LSU, he was named a 1st Team Freshman All-American by Perfect Game. As a sophomore in 2013, Nola became the SEC Pitcher of the Year, was named a 1st Team All-American by Baseball America, and won the Corbett Award as the Best Amateur Athlete in Louisiana.
Aaron's brother, Austin, was the shortstop at LSU when Aaron got his scholarship to play for the Tigers. (Austin turned down the Rockies, who chose him in the 48th round in 2008, in order to go to LSU.) Aaron almost chose the University of Central Florida, but LSU won out in the end.
Aaron said he learned a lot by playing alongside his brother.
“He would tell me what I was doing wrong, he would teach me,” Nola said. “It was good for me because I would learn from a hitter’s perspective also. He would actually catch my bullpens and tell me what I was doing wrong and right, what I needed to work on. That helped me look at it in a different way.”
Both Nola brothers stand out for their control of their emotions, but their personalities are different.
“Austin was like the altar boy, the poster child for our program,” Mainieiri said. “I think Aaron’s probably got a little more edge to him, but Austin keeps him humble. Austin’s like the typical older brother; whenever he thinks Aaron’s getting a little carried away with himself, Austin puts him in his place. They have a lot of the same values. I think Aaron’s a little more fun-loving, a little more talkative probably than Austin. But all in a positive way.”
There is no question the Nola brothers, Aaron and Austin, would love to face each other in the future.
"No doubt, no doubt," Nola said. "That would be awesome. I pitched against him a couple times here at LSU. We always messed around. It would be fun, funny and special at the same time for us." "I'm afraid little brother might beat his older brother to the big leagues," Mainieri said. (Zolecki - mlb.com - 6/5/14)
At LSU, Nola was a pinpoint control artist. He went 12-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 122 K/18 BB over 126 innings as a sophomore. As a freshman, he had 89 K/7 BB over 89.2 innings and 40 of those strikeouts were looking. And in 2014, his junior year, he was 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA and 134 Ks in 116 innings.
Nola is the only two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, and he was one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to college baseball's top player. "I'm going to move as quickly as I can through the organization," Nola said. "I'm just going to do my best, compete and see where I can go. I'm just excited to get rolling." (Zolecki - mlb.com - 6/5/14)
August 28, 2014: Nola closed out his year in style, throwing five scoreless innings to help Double-A Reading defeat Trenton, 3-0. Aaron struck out two, walked none and allowed four hits. He threw 61 pitches and earned the victory, his second in five starts with Reading. (Teddy Cahill - MLB.com - 8/29/2014)
In 2015, Baseball America rated Nola as the second-best prospect in the Phillies organization. And their top pitching prospect.
In 2015, Nola was chosen by the Phillies to play in the Futures Games.
Aaron knows his way around a ballpark. He is at home in the countryside, hunting, fishing and sitting around a campfire.
But when he found himself in the midst of asphalt, sidewalks, high rises, traffic jams and crowded sidewalks . . .
Thankfully, Stacie Nola, Aaron's mom, showed up before things got out of hand.
"It took a couple years to get adjusted to big-city life" Aaron, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, said "It's a lot different than the South. We'd sit around a fire and talk about life. We would hunt and fish. It was laid back. I'd never really been in a big city before I went up there, but I really like it now."
Thanks to mom. Stacie would come to town and her son was her companion in experiencing the historic wonders of Philadelphia.
"She'd only been to Philadelphia a couple times, but she knew the town better than I did," Nola recalled. "She helped me (get comfortable in the big city). She loves to explore the city. So, when she's in town and there's a day off, I'm walking with her." (Tracy Ringolsby - Baseball Digest - July, 2019)
Nola is the latest star to help a 9-year-old Santa Rosa, California boy rebuild his memorabilia collection after losing it all in the Tubbs fire.
Nola spoke to Philadelphia's WMGK about his efforts to help Santa Rosa's Loren Smith.
"I can kind of relate to him because my house burned down on my 12th birthday," said Nola on the John DeBella radio show. "I didn't have nearly as much as he had but I lost two books of baseball cards."
Smith, a huge Oakland A's fan, lost 17 jerseys, a signed A's baseball, and autographs of both Nola and A's legend Rickey Henderson in the fire that burned through his neighborhood. Nola is the boy's favorite player not on A's.
Nola told DeBella that's he's sending his own care package with signed team collectibles and treats. (Frank Sumrall - Oct 27, 2017)
June 21, 2018: ALS is a cause that Nola is especially passionate about. His uncle Allen was diagnosed with ALS a few years back. And with the Phillies so involved in helping fight the disease, Nola has noticed something that defines most PALS (people with ALS). "They're super positive and their attitude is really good," Nola said. "I think with a disease like ALS you have to have a good attitude. That's what they preach."
For Nola and his teammates, that can help them look at life in a different light. "Sometimes we take life for granted," Nola said. "Coming over here and really seeing these PALS and walk around and communicate with them really puts life into perspective."
Proceeds from the Phillies Phestival, is an annual event benefitting the ALS Association Greater Philadelphia Chapter, where the money will be used for patient services and research of the disease for which there is no known cause or cure. It's all part of the Phillies' effort to "#StrikeOutALS." Also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, ALS is a deadly neuromuscular disease that progressively deteriorates physical functions. (J Bloss -MLB.com - June 21, 2018)
July 2018: Nola was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game. He stood on the first-base line of Nationals Park as the ace of a first-place club. His peers had voted him an All-Star because of the 20 starts that put him, and the Phillies, there. While Joe Buck validated Nola's status as one of the best pitchers in the game and introduced the Phillies' only representative at the Midsummer Classic to a national audience, Nola smiled.
As someone who doesn't usually show much emotion, Nola deserved such. Even if it meant smiling through the boos that come with an appearance in a rival's ballpark.
"It's pretty fun," Nola said after National League's eventual 8-6 loss. "I mean, this whole experience is fun for me." Nola pitched the fifth inning for the NL. He struck out Royals catcher Salvador Perez with a curveball. Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts met the same fate thanks to a 96-mph fastball, nearly four mph faster than Nola's 92.6-mph average this year.
"I can get up to 95," Nola said. "I got up to 96 a few times last year, maybe once or twice this year. But I know I can't be throwing 99, 100 like a lot of these guys. I don't really care about that."
After Astros second baseman Jose Altuve knocked a first-pitch single, Nola got Angels outfielder Mike Trout to pop out. He threw 15 pitches, 10 for strikes. Nola said he didn't initially realize who was due up, but Phillies outfielder Rhys Hoskins, a day after competing in the Home Run Derby, noticed the way his teammate elevated his stuff against arguably baseball's best three hitters.
Nola and Alex Bregman were roommates at LSU.
2018: Nola had the highest current WAR (16.5) of any Phillies player.
Aaron helped the organization kick off the 2019 Phans Feeding Families campaign in Philadelphia. Nola was named ambassador for the annual event at Philabundance, the Delaware Valley's largest hunger relief organization.
"I’m just glad to lend my name as an ambassador to help Philabundance strike out hunger," Nola said. "I drive past this place every day on the way to the stadium, but it's so much bigger than I thought. Being here really puts it in perspective what Philabundance is about, and how many children and families this helps every year."
The initiative, which began in 2011, has generated approximately $500,000, leading to more than a million meals for families in need. The Phillies plan to help add to that total in a number of ways this season with the help of their fans. (Casella - mlb.com - 5/2/19)
Aaron’s mother texted him June 15, 2019, and said she had incredible news. His older brother Austin had been called up to the big leagues with the Mariners, following an eight-year run through the Minor Leagues.
“It’s one of the better days I’ve had, and probably one of the better days my parents have had, too,” Aaron said. “A good present for my dad on Father’s Day 2019.”
Aaron and Austin played together in high school and in college at LSU. The Phillies selected Aaron, 26, with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. He made his big league debut July 21, 2015. The Marlins selected Austin, 29, in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. Austin played 773 games in the Minor Leagues, learning to play catcher at one point, before finally getting the call.
“I wanted to get emotional, man,” Aaron said. “I’ve been through it with him in the off-seasons. I know how hard he works. Every year he always stays super positive through it. Always has the confidence. He always says, ‘I know I’m going to get there. I’m going to stay in ball until I get there.’ Not many guys do that. I don’t hear that from many guys. Playing [eight] full years in the Minor Leagues? It’s tough. Fortunately, I didn’t go through it like he did, but I’ve seen it through his eyes and have been with him through a lot of it. It’s just super exciting.”
Austin got the call after the Mariners traded Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankees. He batted .327/.415/.520 with seven home runs and 37 RBI in 54 games with Triple-A Tacoma.
“I think I was happier last night with him getting called up than I was when I got called up,” Aaron said. “I had a feeling I was going to get called up and [then] it’s let’s great ready for the start. I think it means a lot more to me for him getting called up for how long he’s been in the Minor Leagues and how long he’s worked for it. He’s 29 now. You see a lot of guys getting called up earlier than that. It kind of shows a lot about a guy that sticks with it until he’s almost 30 years old.”
Aaron has faced his brother four times in his life: once in a high school intra-squad game and three times in an intra-squad game at LSU. He allowed a first-pitch double off the outfield wall, hit him with a pitch and struck him out. He would love to face his brother in the big leagues. (Zolecki – mlb.com – 6/16/19)
- Sept 9, 2020: Meeting the people he has met the past few years, Aaron Nola cannot help but see things differently.
“We’re spoiled sometimes, a lot of times,” Nola said. “Where we’re at right now, yeah, it’s a hard game and we worked hard to get here, but a lot of people, they don’t come up with some of the things that we come up with. They have to work hard to provide for their families and work hard every day just to survive. If we can help them out any way we can, that’s a plus. That’s what God wants us to do.”
The Phillies nominated Nola for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award for his work with the ALS Association’s Greater Philadelphia and Louisiana-Mississippi Chapters; the anti-bullying program “Shred Hate;” Philadelphia Futures, a high school mentoring organization that helps students gain admission to and succeed in college; Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization; Hospitality Assistance Response of Pennsylvania (HARP), which is helping restaurant workers during the COVID-19 crisis; and more.
Nola talks about his work and commitment to these groups like he talks about his commitment to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
“I feel like a lot of fans see what we do on the field, but I think it’s more important off the field, as human beings, what we want to do and what we’re able to do,” he said. “I think giving back off the field is real important. I’m grateful to use my platform on the field to help give back to others.
ALS is something particularly close to Nola’s heart. His uncle Alan was diagnosed with ALS about five years ago.
Nola and his brother Austin, who plays for the Padres, hosted the “Strike Out ALS” celebrity bowling event in January in Baton Rouge, La.
“ALS kind of hits me the hardest because when we have bad days, especially on the baseball field, there’s really no point for us to really hang our head because those guys are battling [for] life and they’re staying positive almost 100 percent of the time,” Nola said. “We’ve had guys talk to the team who have ALS. Gosh, it’s inspiring. We can all take something from it. It shows just how little baseball is compared to that.
“It’s not the end of the world if you give up five, eight, 10 runs. These people are battling every single day for a disease that has no cure. Their mental state is strong. If we look at that, that can change our outlook on everything. It’s changed my outlook on everything, especially baseball.”
The work will continue, too.
“It’s a priority,” he said. “I feel like it’s something that I think more guys need to do. I know a lot of guys do it, but we can use our platform to give back to others and do everything we can. It’s something that makes you feel good, too. You’re helping others. You’re helping some people who aren’t really able to help themselves. I think if we make that a priority, it can change your look on things. It can change your life.
“Baseball obviously is a hard game. It can bring you up; it can knock you down. But at the end of the day our goal is to help others. Do everything we can. Because baseball is not going to last forever. But what you do and how you do it can last a long time.” (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Sept 9, 2020)
BROTHER AUSTIN NOLA
MLB's Newlybros is back. And this time a couple of actual brothers are kicking things off. Major League siblings Aaron and Austin Nola are the stars of the Season 2 premiere of the YouTube series.
In this Newlybros episode, Aaron, the Phillies' pitcher, and Austin, the Padres' catcher, reveal some Nola family secrets. The Nola brothers talk everything from who got in trouble more when they were kids to their baseball player college roommates to each other's embarrassing tastes in music.
And find out which Nola knows his brother best when Aaron and Austin get quizzed about each other. (mlb.com - 4/8/2021)
Aug. 22, 2021: Phillies' Aaron Nola strikes out big brother Austin in first meeting and dad doesn't know how to react.
A.J. Nola wanted to celebrate, but was torn.
His sons were facing each other at the Major League level for the first time and it was a one-on-one duel between pitcher and batter.
Phillies righty Aaron Nola, 28, struck out San Diego Padres catcher Austin Nola, 31, in the bottom of the second inning. It was a great at-bat for Aaron, who needed only three pitches — two of which were his fastest of the season — to oust his big brother from the box.
And A.J. didn't know what to do afterward in a moment that garnered fans attention. He stood up to cheer, then raised his hands in the universal "I don't know" move. (Cassandra Negley)
Oct 16, 2022: It was around 2:30 a.m. when Stacie and A.J. Nola came to a bittersweet realization while winding down from the thrill of watching their sons Aaron and Austin advance to the NLCS.
"One of our boys is going to be playing for a World Series championship.” "Oh my God. Well, one of them is going to lose."
Austin, 32, the primary catcher for the Padres. And Aaron, 29, a starting pitcher for the Phillies, will become just the sixth pair of brothers to face off in a postseason series. Aaron is slated to pitch Game 2 at Petco Park.
"We were asking Austin that on the way home, and he says, 'I want to see my little brother pitch in the World Series because that would mean the world to me if I saw him pitch,'" A.J. told MLB.com. "Then he goes, 'But wait a minute: I want to play in the World Series!’"
Since they were kids in Baton Rouge, the Nola brothers have had a typical sibling rivalry. In true brotherly fashion, Aaron always tried to play in the yard with Austin and his friends, but the older boys would exclude him.
Until last August at Petco Park, the brothers had only faced off on the diamond once before. During fall practice in 2011, then-LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri decided to put them on opposite teams for a scrimmage. After Austin knocked a booming double off the left-center wall against his baby brother, Mainieri called for a hit-and-run play Austin's next time up. He was retired on a weak grounder.
"He came back to the dugout and he goes, 'Why did you put a hit and run on for?'" Mainieri recalled. "'I didn't want to hurt your brother's confidence, so I needed you to make an out.' But I don't think that'll be the case when they face each other. I'm sure that Austin will be trying to get as many hits as he can, and Aaron will be trying to get him out. But that was the only time I had them play against each other. After that, every time Aaron pitched, I had Austin play shortstop behind him. And it was really a very moving thing emotionally for me and his parents and people that knew the Nola family to see the two of them playing together."
Mainieri still keeps tabs on the Nolas, most recently making the 4 1/2-hour drive from Baton Rouge to Houston to see Aaron toss 6 2/3 scoreless innings to help the Phillies clinch the final NL Wild Card spot on Oct. 3. He is considering flying to San Diego for Game 2 of the NLCS.
But no one can top the devotion of A.J. and Stacie, who have been their sons’ greatest cheerleaders. A.J. coached them through their freshman years of high school. When Austin was 12 and Aaron was 9, A.J. bought a motor home so they could drive around the country every summer for travel ball.
"That's what we lived and breathed, and they absolutely loved it," A.J. said. "That's how our family came together through baseball."
It didn't change in 2012 at LSU, where Austin came back for his senior season to play with freshman Aaron. Austin was the star shortstop, while Aaron became the Saturday starter. A.J. and Stacie didn't miss a game.
It has continued with their sons in the Majors. A.J. and Stacie visit Aaron on the East Coast for a handful of days, then return home to Louisiana before going to Southern California to see Austin.
The Nola parents were in attendance when the Phillies and Padres met for a series in San Diego from June 23-26, 2022. Stacie wore a T-shirt that read, "These are my boys" with the two club logos. A.J. donned both teams' jerseys, but when Aaron pitched, Philly’s went on top. Austin earned bragging rights, driving in the only run in a 1-0 San Diego victory June 24. The Nolas got together for breakfast and postgame dinners, with everyone convening at Austin's house afterwards.
"Of course, I didn't know how much my heart would take while Aaron was pitching to his brother, but it was a good storyline and I was just so glad that it finally ended up happening," A.J. said. "Aaron was a little somber. He just wished the outcome was a little different. But we sat together and talked after the game for hours and it hardly ever came up. We were glad to be a family again, just sitting around and chatting about old times and stuff other than baseball."
Because of what’s at stake in the postseason, however, Austin anticipates he and his younger brother will maintain some space. In the previous rounds, they game-planned opponents together.
“We could’ve never imagined this in a playoff atmosphere,” Austin said. “I can tell you right now, we always imagined facing each other in the big leagues. But I don’t think we ever imagined it in the championship series."
Just as they’ve done so far this postseason, A.J. and Stacie will be there cheering the brothers on in person. During the NL Wild Card Series, they attended a Padres game at Citi Field and Aaron’s start at Busch Stadium. They flew to Philadelphia for NLDS Games 3 and 4, which included Aaron’s domination of the Braves. After the Phillies advanced, A.J. and Stacie returned to their hotel room and stayed up to watch the Padres do the same against the Dodgers. They arrived home on Sunday morning, catching up with Austin on the drive from New Orleans to Baton Rouge.
Did the Nola boys do their parents a favor by meeting up in the NLCS? Austin thought it might stress them out more, joking, “I don't want to take that many years off their life having to deal with that.”
"I think when that first pitch comes about … I don't know," A.J. said. "I'm going to be so locked in on the game. I may not even hear the crowd, I'll be so locked in. When Aaron pitches, I live and breathe each of his pitches, every single pitch." (CD Nicola - MLB.com - Oct 18, 2022)
Jan 20, 2023: - Aaron and Austin Nola smiled Thursday as they talked about their uncle, Alan Andries. He would have loved this.
He certainly loved them. He and his wife Maureen attended almost every baseball game the Nolas played at LSU. So much so that when Austin or Aaron could not spot them in their usual section at Alex Box Stadium, they asked their parents, A.J. and Stacie, where they were.
Alan died on Feb. 10, 2021, following a courageous six-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Thursday, the Nola brothers hosted their second Strike Out ALS event at Red Stick Social, where donors bowled and rubbed elbows with the brothers who recently faced each other in the National League Championship Series.
“Our uncle was so positive,” Aaron said. “He was so smart,” Austin said. “He loved to teach. Numbers, fixing things, financial things, he always had his head into something.” “He could fix anything,” Aaron said. “He could solve any problem.”
So, in their way, the Nolas want to do their part to help solve ALS. They hope their event raises local awareness of the disease and raises money to fund some of the research that ultimately ends it. “We do it here, somebody else does it in the northwest, somebody else does it in the southwest,” Austin said. “Suddenly, wow, we’ve touched the whole country.”
June 2 is Lou Gehrig Day in Major League Baseball. It is a big day for the Nola family.
“Jackie Robinson Day got bigger and bigger over the years,” Aaron said. “Hopefully this is the same thing. Guys wearing Lou Gehrig cleats, jerseys, wristbands. Hopefully it gets bigger and bigger.”
Aaron first became familiar with ALS through the Phillies, who partnered with The ALS Association almost 40 years ago to become their primary charity. Around the time Aaron attended his first Phillies Phestival, which has donated millions to the ALS Association, Alan was diagnosed with the disease.
Alan attended the first Strike Out ALS event in 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world.
“He had a smile on his face,” Austin said.
Maureen Andries beamed as she watched her big league nephews mingle with the crowd. She is the second of seven siblings. Aaron and Austin’s father, A.J., is the youngest. The Nola family is very close.
“He just loved following the boys,” Maureen said. “Three years ago, Alan was in a wheelchair. He lost the ability to function independently, but he was so thrilled to be here. At the end, he could only move his finger. But the boys entertained us, night after night. If Austin wasn’t playing, Aaron was pitching. He could not wait for the games to come on TV.
“Alan was the most interesting man. He was a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley, but he could do anything. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He fixed things. He was the most vibrant and active person. He played tennis. He played golf. And then he gets this disease that he can’t do anything with. He was just the most brilliant, interesting man.”
When Alan died, Aaron and Austin could not attend the funeral in Baton Rouge. Aaron was in Clearwater, Fla., for Spring Training. He got the OK to move up his scheduled bullpen session so he could watch the services via FaceTime. Austin was in camp with the Padres in Arizona. He could not get away at all. He watched a recording of the service afterward on his phone.
“That’s why we’re doing it here,” Austin said. “We couldn’t be there, but we can figure out a way to make it mean something for everybody else.”
Alan Andries solved problems. Before he passed, he and Maureen talked about her future. Or, as he called it, her “fourth quarter.” She said she did not want to live in a big house with a pool anymore. She wanted to downsize and move closer to family.
Alan walked her through the process of buying a lot, and ultimately building a house upon it. Everything went smoothly. She is having another meeting with a contractor soon, and hopes to break ground after that.
The lot is on the same street where the Nola kids grew up, and where A.J. and Stacie still live. In fact, it’s right across the street. Maureen and A.J.’s brother Bubba lives on the street, too. So does a nephew. It’s a street of Nolas.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Maureen said. “Alan had it all planned. He fixed everything for everybody. I miss the heck out of that.”
Everybody misses him. Thursday’s event was evidence of it. He inspired them, and now the Nola brothers hope to help others beat ALS.
“He appreciated it,” Aaron said of being at their first event a few years ago. “It’s a good cause. It’s not about us. It’s about raising money and trying to help people down the road. It’s about everybody pitching in at some point.” (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Jan 20, 2023)
Jan 31, 2023: Only the Nolas know how the Kelces might feel on Super Bowl Sunday.They’ve been there.
Before Eagles center Jason Kelce and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce become the first brothers to play each other in Super Bowl history on Feb. 12, Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola and Padres catcher Austin Nola became the first brothers to face each other as pitcher and batter in MLB postseason history. Austin won the battle in Game 2 of the 2022 National League Championship Series at Petco Park, sparking a five-run rally in the fifth inning with a big hit against his little brother in a Padres victory. Aaron’s Phillies won the war, however, taking the series in five games.
Their parents, A.J. and Stacie Nola, grinded through every pitch, like Ed and Donna Kelce might grind through every play at the Super Bowl.
“The more we think about it, man, that was a pretty cool experience,” A.J. Nola said recently at his sons’ Strike Out ALS event in Baton Rouge, La.
But was it fun in the moment?
“No, no, no,” A.J. said, shaking his head. “What it meant to each city, I was feeling that pressure for Aaron and the Phillies, and I was feeling that pressure for Austin and the Padres. What it meant to each of these cities … it pressured me, man.”
Austin grounded out in his first plate appearance against Aaron in Game 2, but stroked an 0-2 pitch to right-center field in his second plate appearance to score a run and cut the Phillies’ lead to one. The Padres scored five runs in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead.
TV cameras had been fixed on A.J. and Stacie throughout the game. After Austin’s ballpark-rattling hit, the cameras caught A.J. standing there, stoically. A woman in front of him had turned around. She tried to get a reaction from him. A.J. did not bite.
“We got acquainted with the lady in front of us,” A.J. said. “She would stand on her chair, and she kept falling back and we kept grabbing her. She found out who we were. She asked me, ‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. I don’t know how to react.’ I said, ‘I tell you, I’m not going to high-five you if something good happens, or if something bad happens.’ Of course, in the fifth inning … I laugh when I think about it now. My reaction was all over the news. Now I just laugh about it.”
Four days later, Austin flied out to Nick Castellanos in right field at Citizens Bank Park for the final out in Game 5, sending the Phillies to the World Series.
“We celebrated on the field with Aaron,” A.J. said. “Then about 30 minutes later, we went and cried with Austin. Stacie, she said it just hurts to know that one of these guys has to go home. That’s the kind of feelings that we had.”
“It was a lot of hoopla,” Austin said. “It was insane. I didn’t think it was going to be like that. But, shoot, we lost, so I try to put it out of my mind. I try to forget about it, think about the good stuff that happened previously and what might happen this season.” Aaron struck out Austin during a regular season game in 2021. He gifted Austin the baseball that Christmas. Did the NLCS come up this Christmas?
“We didn’t talk about it too much,” Aaron said. “It’s a sore subject.” “It’s a sore subject on a personal level for him, but on a team level for me,” Austin said.
The brothers laughed.
“He got the team, I got the personal,” Austin said.
“That hit hurt me,” Aaron said.
“It definitely jacked up his ERA,” Austin said.
Twenty years from now, 30 years from now, the brothers will be able to sit back and reflect on a historic baseball moment. In the end, they said, it was fun.
The Nolas got together again this offseason for Aaron’s wedding. At the reception, the DJ played “Dancing On My Own,” which was the Phillies’ postseason theme song. It played after victories in the clubhouse and over Citizens Bank Park’s sound system.
“Yeah, I made sure I wasn’t in there when they played it,” Austin said.
“He doesn’t like that song,” Aaron said. “That’s a sore subject.”
“That song sucks,” Austin said.
Brothers until the end. (T Zolecki - MLB.com - Jan31, 2023)
June 2014: Nola was the Phillies #1 pick (7th overall), out of LSU. Aaron signed for a bonus of $3,300,900.
Feb 13, 2019: The Phillies and Nola agreed to a four-year, $45 million contract extension. The extension buys out Nola's three years of salary arbitration eligibility, plus his first free-agent year. The contract includes a club option for a fifth season, which could keep Nola in a Phillies uniform through 2023.
- Nov. 7, 2022: The Phillies picked up Aaron Nola’s $18,000,000 player option for the 2023 season.
|DOB:||6/4/1993||Agent:||Paragon Sports International|
|Birth City:||Baton Rouge, LA|
|Draft:||Phillies #1 - 2014 - Out of LSU|
Nola has an 90-95 mph 4-seam FASTBALL and gets good arm-side run and natural sink on his 89-93 mph SINKER. He also has a 77-80 mph CURVEBALL with 2-to-8 depth that flashes plus potential. And he has a very impressive swing-and-miss 83-86 mph circle-CHANGEUP. He gets a lot of groundball outs and strikeouts with that changeup.
That curveball is kryptonite to righthanded hitters—mostly because of where it comes out of his hand. Aaron has very good command of his stuff. His fastball command is amazing, so he can use both sides of the plate, get ahead in the count and expand it. He goes after hitters, moving the ball all round the strike zone, painting both corners of the plate.
2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 14.1% of the time; Sinker 43.7% of the time; Change 8.5%; and Curve 33.7% of the time.
2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 29.2% of the time; Sinker 24% of the time; Change 15.9%; and Curve 30.8% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 35.5% of the time, his Sinker 14%; Change 19.7%; and Curveball 30.9% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.5 mph, Sinker 92.1, Changeup 85.4, and Curve 78.6 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 34.1% of the time, his Sinker 12.1%; Change 18.6%; and Curveball 35.2% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.5 mph, Sinker 92.6, Changeup 86.2, and Curve 79.4 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 25.7% of the time, his Sinker 20.8%; Change 27.3%; and Curveball 26.2% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 93.2 mph, Sinker 92.0, Changeup 85.3, and Curve 78.9 mph.
2022 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 34% - 93 mph; Curve 27% - 79 mph; Sinker 17.6% - 92.4 mph; Change 15% - 86 mph; Cutter 6.7% 87 mph.
He has a mid-three-quarters arm slot. And he is pretty consistent with it. When it drops lower than three-quarters, his slider tends to flatten. His pitches play up because of his deceptive low arm slot, and he has that incredible command.
Nola is not a finesse guy, but he can really dissect the plate, and he can manipulate the baseball with purpose. Intent. With a pitcher’s savvy. And all this on a 6-foot-1, 196 pound frame.
Aaron's hallmark is his stellar command, athleticism and freakish flexibility. And he has pitch-ability that is far beyond his years.
"Probably the biggest thing I've learned so far is slowing the game down a lot and really focusing on every pitch," he said. "You have to set up the hitters here if you're going to get them out. So far, it's been good.
"I just want to go out and compete and not give up, whether they're scoring runs on me or not," he said. "I don't want to get down at any point or show anybody that I'm down—just keep pitching and competing, no matter what."
He has become a complete pitcher. He gets swings and misses in the zone with his fastball, the mark of a starting pitcher.
- In 2014 at LSU, he went 11-1 in 16 starts. He had a 1.47 ERA, 134 strikeouts, and 27 walks in 116 innings. He struck out 345 batters over his three-year college career, which are 53 more than base runners he allowed. He went 30-6 with a 2.09 ERA in his career.
"I'm obviously biased and I haven't seen all the other guys in the draft, but I know what Aaron can do," LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. "He's pretty close to being big-league ready, if he's not already. The reason I say that is because he's got good stuff. He wouldn't go in the first round if he didn't have good stuff, but he has impeccable control. He's got the best command of any pitcher I've ever coached. Plus, he's got amazing mound presence. You can't fluster this kid."
Nola had a 6.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio at LSU. How that translates to professional baseball remains to be seen, but the average big-leaguer this season has a 2.52 ratio.
"If you could build a pitcher this is what you would build him to be like," Mainieri said. "He'll throw 92-94, and he'll maintain that the whole game. His curveball has become a plus pitch, and he's always had a pretty good changeup." (6/5/14)
Aaron has tremendous makeup, is an outstanding competitor, is a real winner and always has been.
2014 Season: Nola logged a 2.93 ERA in 55 innings at Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He struck out 45 and walked just 10. Nola finished the year with five walk-free, shutout innings against Trenton.
July 21, 2017: Two years to the day removed from his Major League debut, Nola did something in the 6-1 win over the Brewers that he'd never done in his Major League career. In one trip through the Brewers batting order, he faced nine hitters and struck out eight of them. He was so locked in, so focused, he didn't even realize what he'd done.
"Oh. I didn't even know," a nonplussed Nola said when asked about the shutdown stretch that helped tie a career-high with nine strikeouts. From that one stretch of nine hitters, Nola flashed the advanced get-ahead, stay-ahead, put-em-away stuff often unattainable for a 24-year-old with fewer than 50 career big league starts.
It was that pitch-ability, a combination of command and sequencing, that enticed the Phillies to draft him No. 7 overall in 2014. And it's reappeared in the big leagues. Of those nine batters that spanned from the final out of the third inning to the second out of the sixth, Nola leaped ahead 0-2 on seven. Major League hitters this year are hitting .165 after an 0-2 count. The Brewers fared even worse. Nola was elite command personified.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin and catcher Andrew Knapp all pointed to Nola's changeup, a highly improved pitch, as a game-changer.
"That right-on-right changeup was pretty devastating for those guys; I think they were pretty concerned with the curveball, then when you throw the changeup in a fastball count, it's tough to hold up," said Knapp, the man with the best view of all. "He's been working on that changeup all year and it's really one of his better pitches right now," Mackanin said.
Nola has looked every bit the part of a future Phillies ace. "It's a blast, it's like a video game. I want to get that every day. Every time he pitches there's an opportunity for that," Knapp said. (B Harris - MLB.com - July 22, 2017)
2017 season: Nola struck out 184 batters in 168 innings and averaged 9.86 strikeouts per nine innings—the third-best mark in Phillies history. Only Curt Schilling fared better, averaging 11.29 strikeouts per nine in 1997 and 10.05 strikeouts in 1998.
Best pitch: the curveball. Nola's curveball is his greatest weapon. He will throw the pitch in any situation in any count. Nola has thrown it 42.5 percent of the time behind in the count, since making his MLB debut in 2015. He has thrown it in a three-ball count 66 times over the years. It has been a strike 52 times in those situations.
What it does: The average spin rate on Nola's curveball is 2,509 rpm, which is slightly above league average (2,492 rpm). But it is not an average pitch. Since Nola broke into the big leagues, it has the most horizontal break in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Essentially, it moves and sweeps across the plate, making it incredibly difficult to hit.
What they say about it: "There is no comp," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "You can really see that thing take a sharp left turn out of his hand."
Statcast fact: Batters have swung and missed at the pitch 38.9 percent of the time since the beginning of last season, which is 19th out of 105 pitchers (minimum 100 swings against it).
Nola is quick to refer to Bob McClure, his pitching coach his first three seasons with the Phillies, as a facilitator to his development. But McClure gives the nod to Aaron.
"He understands the most important things, not spin rate and this and that, but controlling the baseball. Strikes, location," McClure said.
"To work with someone who understands the value of controlling the ball is refreshing. He was like (Zack) Greinke (whom McClure coached when he came up in Kansas City). He understands the art. The slow heartbeat. Down to earth. Aaron thought like a baseball player." (July, 2019)
Sept 26, 2019: Gabe Kapler announced that Nola would not pitch the season finale against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Nola made his career-high 34th start of the season against the Nationals, but with the Phils eliminated from the postseason, Kapler said resting Nola is “the best decision for Aaron and for the Phillies long term.”
“We asked him to pitch every five days for the rest of the season,” Kapler said. “And if the last game of the season was going to help us get into the playoffs, we were going to pitch him. But we're balancing trying to win every game here with our 2020 expectations and beyond. It is my duty to protect Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies, and that's why he's not going to pitch in the season finale."
Nola talks about his curveball:
If the season started today, Nola probably could throw a few nasty curveballs. He has one of the best in baseball.
It wasn’t always that way.
“When the seams started getting a little smaller in the Minor Leagues, I was kind of struggling with it,” he said. “It was kind of backing up on me. I was playing around with a spike curveball on flat ground. I started moving that [index finger] up and started throwing it in some [throwing sessions on] flat [ground]. I saw it kind of moving a little bit, a little bit more. I threw it in a game and the first hitter of the game kind of buckled a little bit. I told myself, 'I’ve got to stay with this.'”
Nola got 445 called and swinging strikes on curveballs last season, which led baseball. He got 109 strikeouts on it.
Perhaps the ultimate compliment is that hitters are helpless against it, even though they know it is coming. Nola threw his curveball 35.2% of the time last season. Only four pitchers (minimum 1,500 pitches) threw a greater percentage than him. His breaking ball moved vertically 3.0 inches more than average. It moved horizontally 1.9 inches more than average. Hitters cite the pitch’s late break for its effectiveness.
“I want that second break,” Nola said. “I want it to break, then break hard down.”
Aaron Nola's nasty curveball: The open part of the horseshoe sits deep into Nola’s palm, which gives him the feeling that he has more seam to work with. The middle finger runs along the right seam. His index finger serves as a guide, sitting in the middle of the two seams.
“I needed something harder with more control, so I started gripping it like that,” he said. “It’s a little bit tighter. It’s actually easier to command for me. Then when I’m kind of struggling with it, I go back to throwing the football curve [on flat ground]. It kind of keeps me on top of the baseball with my finger on top so I can pull down.”
The “football curve” is the breaking ball that Nola’s father taught him when he was about 11 years old.
“You don’t break your wrist,” Nola said. “I’ve never thrown a slider, but I think you break your wrist a little bit more. But he always told me, ‘Don’t break your wrist.’ You can throw it, stiff wrist, just like a football. You don’t see a lot of guys getting elbow injuries throwing a football.” (Todd Zolecki - April 27, 2020)
Nola started for the Phillies in 2019's Opening Game.
July 20, 2020: Aaron joined some remarkable company, when the 27-year-old right-hander started Opening Day against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. It was Nola’s third consecutive Opening Day start.
Roy Halladay (2010-2012) is the last Phillies pitcher to start three consecutive Opening Days. The last pitcher to start four? Steve Carlton, who started 10 consecutive season openers from 1977-1986.
March 22, 2021: There wasn’t much suspense when it came to who would take the ball for the Phillies in their season opener, but manager Joe Girardi made it official, naming Aaron as the club’s Opening Day starter.
“I think Aaron probably knew it anyway, just the way everything lines up,” said Girardi, who informed Nola of the honor hours before his scheduled start against the Yankees. “It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out when you start getting in your rotation how it lines up.”
This will be Nola’s fourth consecutive Opening Day assignment, the longest streak by a Philadelphia pitcher since Steve Carlton started 10 straight openers from 1977-86. (M Feinsand - MLB.com - March 22, 2021)
April 6, 2022: Aaron will make his fifth consecutive Opening Day start, which puts him in elite company.
The only other Phillies pitchers to reach that mark are Steve Carlton (10 consecutive, 1977-86) and Robin Roberts (12 consecutive, 1950-61).
2020 Season: There’s an extra expectation that comes with being a team’s No. 1 starter; Nola was looking for a rebound year, with a 12-7 record, 3.87 ERA, and 1.265 WHIP last season after an All-Star campaign in 2018 that saw a 17-6 record, 2.37 ERA, and 0.975 WHIP — landing him third place in the NL Cy Young voting.
Nola’s performance this past season was good overall, but there was no consistency in what the Phillies got from him like in previous seasons. In the season opener against the Miami Marlins, Nola gave up four runs, five hits, and one walk, while striking out seven batters in 5 1/3 innings.
Aaron rebounded in his following three starts, giving up a combined two runs across 21 innings against the Yankees, Braves, and Mets. Those outings saw plenty of strikeouts, with 12, 10, and 8, respectively, against the teams.
Just as quickly as Nola appeared to be back to his 2018 form, things got ugly again. In an August 21 road start against the Braves, Nola got off to an okay start, with a hit and two walks surrendered through two innings. However, the game unraveled in the third inning, with Nola yielding four runs off of five hits and a walk, including two home runs; he recorded only two outs that frame before being pulled. (Bryce Turner - Nov. 4, 2020)
Nola’s curveball looked as good as ever last year. That 58.2% chase rate is the highest chase rate ever posted. (For reference, Hyun-jin Ryu‘s changeup was #1 in 2019 at 56.6%. And Masahiro Tanaka's splitter was #1 in 2018 at 55.5%.)
Not only did it get chased almost 60% of the time, it also had a 21.6% SwStr rate, a 44.1% CSW, and a 48% strikeout rate. There aren’t too many better swing-and-miss pitches in all of baseball.
June 1, 2021: Aaron pitched the 1,000th strikeout of his career. Nola is the ninth pitcher in Phillies history to hit that mark, but he's the fastest to do it. He reached 1,000 strikeouts in 913 innings. Nola, who will turn 28 on June 4th, is the third Phils pitcher to reach 1,000 K's before turning 28. Nola (27 years, 362 days) joins Steve Carlton (27 years, 137 days) and Hamels (27 years, 174 days).
June 25, 2021: Aaron tied Tom Terrific. If only he could have enjoyed it.
Nola matched Tom Seaver’s 51-year-old strikeout record before the Phillies' gruesome late-inning meltdown in a 2-1 loss to the Mets in game 1 of a seven-inning doubleheader that went one extra frame at Citi Field. Nola struck out 10 consecutive batters, joining Seaver as the only pitchers in baseball history to accomplish the feat. Seaver struck out 10 consecutive Padres at Shea Stadium on April 22, 1970.
Shea once sat only a hundred yards from Citi Field, of which the address is 41 Seaver Way.
“It’s pretty cool being in a category with Tom,” Nola said. (T Zolecki - MLB.com - June 25, 2021)
September 12, 2021: Aaron struck out Ryan McMahon in the fifth inning for his 200th strikeout of the 2021 season. He is just the sixth pitcher in team history with three 200-plus strikeout seasons, joining Steve Carlton (seven), Jim Bunning (four), Grover Cleveland Alexander (four), Cliff Lee (three) and Cole Hamels (three). Alexander was the only other pitcher to accomplish the feat before his 29th birthday. Nola, Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole and Robbie Ray are the only pitchers with 200 strikeouts in each of the last three full seasons (2018, 2019, 2021).
2021 Season: Aaron hurt his team more than he helped them this season. (Ouch.) He struggled to perform and missed time due to a team COVID outbreak after he refused to get vaccinated.
Over 32 starts, Nola posted a 4.63 ERA, the second-worst of his seven-year career. The 28-year-old righty failed to pitch 200+ innings for the first time since 2017. His hit and home run rates increased, while his strikeout rate decreased.
Nola allowed three or more earned runs in 19 of 32 games and only made four scoreless starts. In addition to ineffectiveness, there was a lack of depth; he did not reach six full innings in 18 of his games. As such, the Phillies were 15-17 in his games. (Gabrielle Starr - Oct. 20, 2021)
- 2022 Season: Statistics: 11-13 with a 3.25 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 0.961 WHIP, two complete games and a 6.3 WAR
Age During 2023 Season: 30
Nola bounced back from a disappointing 2021 season to lead all pitchers in WAR in 2022, per FanGraphs. Since the start of the 2018 season, his 871 2/3 innings pitched are the top mark in baseball. The Phillies have said all the right things regarding wanting to retain Nola beyond 2023, and given how aggressively that John Middleton has spent in recent years, there's probably a good chance they are successful in re-signing the former first-round pick. But it's likely to take an investment at least as large as the one the Yankees made in the aforementioned Rodón this past offseason. (Tim Kelly - Feb. 1, 2023)
- 2023 Nastiest Pitch on the Phillies - Nola's knuckle-curve gets great movement -- it drops 3.3 inches and breaks 2.0 inches more than an average curveball -- and he's a master of commanding it, with 85 curveball K's in '22. (D Adler - MLB.com - Feb 8, 2023)
- Aaron needs to work on controlling the running game.
April-May 2010: Nola missed just over a month with sports hernia.
July 29-Nov 3, 2016: Nola was on the DL with a strained right elbow.
April 21-May 21, 2017: Nola was on the DL with a lower back strain.
- July 11-20, 2021: Nola was on the Covid IL.