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July 03, 2016

Mackanin: Phillies will skip Aaron Nola's next start

The first half of Aaron Nola’s up-and-down 2016 season is over.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said the team will skip Nola’s next start, which had been scheduled for Thursday in Denver, following a 7-2 win over the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Mackanin mentioned the possibly of giving Nola an extended break with the All-Star break coming up both before and after the 23-year-old’s “encouraging” start on Saturday in a 6-2 loss to Kansas City. After conferring with general manager Matt Klentak and Co., Mackanin announced the team’s intentions on Sunday.

“He’s going to miss his start,” Mackanin said. “We’re going to keep him around. Just clear his head and give him a little bit of time off. We’ll probably have a simulated game to get him back on the mound. He will start again after the break.”

Depending on when the Phils bring him back after the break and how they align the rotation, Nola could get between 12 and 17 days off between starts.

“They kind of told me straightforward that they were going to hold back on that one,” Nola said. “But I understand. As a competitor, as anybody that's a competitor, you always want to go out and not miss any starts or anything like that.

“If you ask anybody, we all want to be pitching every fifth day. It's what they want to do and I understand. But hopefully, it will help. Any time you get some time off it's good. But I'm still going to try to get my work in the best that I can and get ready for my next start.”

It was only a month ago that Nola looked like arguably the Phillies best All-Star candidate following the first two months of the 2016 season. The 2014 first-round pick was 5-4 with a 2.65 ERA after his first 12 starts and his K/BB rate and WHIP were both among National League leaders.

But Nola has allowed more earned runs in his last five starts (27 in 18 innings) than he had in those first dozen (23 in 78 innings).

Nola appeared to turn the corner on Saturday night, however. He allowed a crushing three-run home run after the Royals began a second-inning rally with a series of infield singles and blooping hits, but he also went on to retire each of the last 10 batters he faced, six via strikeout.

The Phillies haven’t decided just yet who will start in Nola’s place on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, but Adam Morgan, recently demoted to the bullpen, would seem like the most obvious option for a spot start before the break.

Nola, meanwhile, will throw a simulated game in Denver and catch up on some rest, both physically and mentally.

“I feel like any time you have some time off it definitely helps,” Nola said. “This is my first full season here and they want to watch me, but I'm still going to go out and try to throw as many innings as I can and throw as much as I can.”

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