J.T. Realmuto: People who say Aaron Nola's not an ace don't know baseball

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Corey Seidman
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Realmuto’s response to folks who don’t think Nola’s an ace originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while when Aaron Nola has a couple of mediocre starts in a row, there are cries on the airwaves and the nightmarish landscape that Twitter has become that he’s “not an ace.”

It’s typically just fan frustration after a loss but it’s still pretty silly and it’s not rooted in fact. There is no textbook definition of “ace” but if you started ranking the top starting pitchers in baseball, Nola would probably be in single-digits.

After Nola’s two-hit, 10-strikeout shutout of the Cardinals Sunday, catcher J.T. Realmuto was asked what he thinks when he hears that.

“If you look at Nola the last three or four years, I don’t know how you could possibly say he’s not an ace,” he said. “He’s been a Top 10 pitcher in baseball so I’m not sure how that would be considered not an ace. If that was me, that would certainly fuel my fire.

“I would say it’s people outside of the game of baseball who view it that way. People in the clubhouse and people on the field know that he’s an ace, on this team and other teams. Just look at the guy’s resume. I’m not really sure where that comes from but it’s not from people who know baseball.”

Since 2018, Nola is 35-19 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He has 67 more strikeouts than innings pitched. 

Over that span, he leads all of MLB in innings pitched, one out ahead of Gerrit Cole and five ahead of Jacob deGrom (whose made four fewer starts).

Sounds ace-like.

Nola said he hears that chatter from time to time but is unbothered by it. He’s probably not fibbing, he seems unbothered by practically everything. There are few pitchers more low-key than Nola.

“He’s definitely more calm,” Realmuto said. “He’s not Max Scherzer out there, he’s not huffing and puffing around the mound. I can see where that would confuse some people, but as far as getting outs and winning baseball games? He does a really good job of that.”

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