MIAMI — For the second time in as many weeks, the Phillies will take advantage of a day off and shuffle the starting rotation in an attempt to maximize ace Aaron Nola's impact on the playoff race.
Nola, who started last Sunday, will move up one spot and start Friday night's series opener against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Because the Phillies are idle Thursday, Nola will be pitching against the Mets on his regular rest.
But the adjustment also means Nola will be lined up to start a game in both series against the division-leading Atlanta Braves. Nola will start on Sept. 12 at home against the Washington Nationals and Sept. 18 at home against the Mets before facing the Braves on Sept. 23 in Atlanta and Sept. 28 at Citizens Bank Park.
With Nola starting Friday, Zach Eflin will be pushed back to start Saturday night, one week after his previous start, against Mets co-ace Noah Syndergaard. Vince Velasquez will start Sunday's series finale against Mets' Cy Young Award candidate Jacob deGrom.
Last week, the Phillies used a day off to move Nola up to Sunday and give him an extra start at home. He gave up four runs on five hits, including three home runs, in an 8-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs, his first loss in 15 home starts this season.
Nola is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA in three starts against the Braves this season.
In manager Gabe Kapler's latest lineup shuffle, Carlos Santana made a start at third base for the first time since May 22, 2014.
Kapler explained that he wanted to get first baseman Justin Bour into the lineup to take advantage of his on-base skills against Marlins rookie starter Sandy Alcantara. Santana, who remained in the leadoff spot for the second consecutive game, previously played three innings at third base, all within the past month.
But Kapler also allowed for the possibility that the Phillies would use their expanded September roster to make defensive changes earlier in the game if they got a lead.
"Just like any other game where we can upgrade our defense at some point, we'll be looking to upgrade our defense, upgrade our baserunning at some point during the game," Kapler said. "We don't expect [Santana] to go over there and be a Gold Glove defender. We expect him to catch the balls that are hit to him, and we understand that this is a way to get Justin Bour in the lineup."
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