As bad days go, this was fairly brutal. By day, the Phillies put reliever David Robertson on the injured list because of lingering soreness in his right elbow/forearm. Then, by night, they watched Aaron Nola put up another dud in what wound up as an 11-inning loss to the Mets.
Talk about having a case of the Mondays.
Today will bring a reprieve, at least for a few hours. The Phillies will join commissioner Rob Manfred at Independence Hall to announce that the 2026 All-Star Game will be played at Citizens Bank Park as part of America’s 250th birthday bash. More than a dozen current and former Phillies players will attend the 2 p.m. news conference, which is open to the public.
And then Nick Pivetta will take the mound, putting stomachs at risk of churning once again.
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Three weeks into the season, Corey Kluber has a 6.16 ERA. Zack Greinke’s is 5.46. Chris Sale has given up 13 runs in 13 innings. After getting knocked around by the Phillies last night, Noah Syndergaard saw his ERA swell to 5.63.
So, no, Aaron Nola isn’t alone. Other ace pitchers are struggling, too, and yes, it’s still early.
But that doesn’t mean the Phillies shouldn’t be worried.
Nola has made four starts this season. He hasn’t completed seven innings in any. Last season, he didn’t give up more than four runs in any of his 33 starts. This year, it has happened three times already. Of the 78 major-league pitchers who have worked at least 15 innings, Nola ranks 78th with a 7.45 ERA.
And here’s the really alarming part: Nobody seems to know what’s wrong.
By all accounts, Nola is healthy. His average fastball velocity is a tick lower than at the same point last season but not enough to raise a red flag. He’s working just as diligently as ever between starts. Everyone agrees that Nola lacks his typically precise control, especially with his curveball and change-up. But neither Nola nor anyone else can explain it.
“I don’t know,” Nola said. “I’m going to look into kind of what’s going on and just keep working. It happens to everybody, I think. I’m not going to hang my head about it because there’s a lot of baseball left. I’ll still go out there and compete."
Said manager Gabe Kapler: “His command is his calling card. He’s got movement, deception, life. And those things are still there. He just needs to put the ball where he wants to throw it. I think he’s making mechanical adjustments along the way and hasn’t found the right one to enable him to have his pinpoint command, the command that he normally has."
It’s that track record, Kapler says, that gives the Phillies confidence that Nola will figure it all out. He has been one of the best pitchers in the National League since the All-Star break in 2017 and was a Cy Young Award finalist last season. Kapler believes that Nola, as much as any Phillies pitcher, “deserves the benefit of the doubt here.”
Maybe so, but if that’s the case, then this is also true: If their homegrown ace doesn’t regain his dominance of NL hitters, the Phillies will find it nearly impossible to win the division.
Through 15 games, Phillies starters have combined for a 5.08 ERA. They’ve completed seven innings only three times. It’s still early enough in the season that signing free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel to even a one-year contract in excess of $18 million would be considered a panic move. But the longer Nola struggles at the top of the rotation, the greater the Phillies’ need for pitching help will become.
“We are going to do everything in our power to help him get back on track,” Kapler said. “There’s no tricks. There’s no switch that you can turn on. Just give him all the support in the world, ask him to be the best he can be.”
The game was decided in the 11th inning on a play that first baseman Rhys Hoskins needed to make, as Matt Breen detailed. It didn’t help, either, that Bryce Harper popped up a first pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth inning after Mets reliever Robert Gsellman had just walked in the tying run on four pitches.
David Robertson will undergo an MRI today to help diagnose the elbow soreness that put him on the injured list yesterday. For now, at least, the veteran reliever isn’t concerned that the injury is anything serious.
Before Ryan Howard hit 382 home runs in 13 years, he studied communications and mass media at Missouri State University. He’s using those skills now as an analyst for ESPN, and Bob Brookover caught up with him before his in-booth debut for Phillies-Mets.
Today: 2026 All-Star Game news conference at Independence Hall; open to public, 2 p.m.
Tonight: Phillies’ Nick Pivetta vs. Mets’ Steven Matz, 7:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Jake Arrieta vs. Zack Wheeler in series finale, 1:05 p.m.
Thursday: Phillies hit the road for a four-game series in Colorado, 8:40 p.m.
Monday: The road trip continues with Phillies at Mets, 7:10 p.m.
When Hector Neris struggled during the first half of last season, the Phillies wanted him to throw fewer sliders and more of his signature splitter. It took six weeks in triple A for Neris to get the message, and when he got called back up in mid-August, he all but abandoned the slider and threw mostly splitters and fastballs.
This season, Neris has gone to an even greater extreme. Of his 112 pitches, 81 have been splitters, a 72.3 percent frequency. According to Statcast, the only other pitcher who uses his splitter even 50 percent of the time is Diamondbacks reliever Yoshihisa Hirano (56.5). Neris’ splitter usage is up from a league-leading 49.1 percent last season, 51.2 percent in 2017, and 49.4 percent in 2016.
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Answer: Anderson was a curious choice to replace Robertson in the bullpen because he was starting at triple A. Edubray Ramos or Yacksel Rios would have made sense, but Ramos got sent down last Friday and Rios recently returned from an abdominal strain.
As long as Anderson is here (and he might get sent right back down because the Phillies need a fresh arm after how much the bullpen was taxed in the last two days), he will be used as a long reliever. He gave them two scoreless innings last night and looked very sharp.