Aaron Nola's sprint through the Phillies farm system reached the finish line on Friday morning as the team announced the righthander will make his major-league debut on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tampa Bay.
Nola, 21, went 10-4 this season with a 2.39 ERA in 18 starts between double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is the first Phillies player to debut in the season after being drafted since Pat Combs in 1989. Nola will wear No. 27. Bench coach Larry Bowa currently wears No. 10, which Nola has sported since college.
"I'm as anxious to see him as everybody else is," interim manager Pete Mackanin said before Friday's game against Miami. "We're all just looking forward to seeing how he competes out here. It's going to be fun watching him. I hope."
Nola was promoted to triple A last month after posting a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts at double A. Friday's announcement came a day after Nola's worst professional start. He allowed six runs in three innings on Thursday night as Lehigh Valley fell at Rochester. Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage said Nola showed his ability to compete during his month with the IronPigs.
"He's had to compete for his outs," Brundage said. "He's had to make pitches and make adjustments along the way. He hasn't been perfect by any stretch. I think it's been a good learning curve for him to be here at triple A."
Nola will be the third Phillies pitcher this season to make his major-league debut. The pitcher has logged 1091/3 innings this season. The Phillies plan to cap him around 170 innings. He should be able to make roughly 10 more starts, which would allow Nola to pitch until mid-September.
The Phillies drafted Nola out of LSU with the seventh pick in the 2014 draft. He started his professional career at high-A Clearwater, bypassing the organization's lower rungs. Nola proved to be a quick mover and ended his first season at Reading. Nola's fastball has hit up to 95 m.p.h., and he pairs it with a good change-up and curveball.
"The thing that really jumps out to you is his command. His control," said LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri when reached by phone on Thursday. "This guy has as good of control of his fastball as any pitcher I've known in 33 years of college coaching."
Mackanin was 21 years old - a year younger than Nola - when he debuted with Texas in 1973. He probably should not have been there, he said. The infielder was anxious to see how fast major-league pitchers threw. Instead, he met knuckleballer Wilbur Wood in the first game of a doubleheader. Mackanin went 0 for 4 against Wood. His first hit came in the second game. He was so nervous his knees were shaking.
"Literally," Mackanin said. "I kept moving my feet back and forth so no one would see my knees shaking."
The manager said he does not know how Nola will handle Tuesday's debut. He only met him briefly during spring training. But, Mackanin will understand if he is a little jittery.