Aaron Nola hasn’t earned a win since August, but a victory on Wednesday would send the Philadelphia Phillies to the National League Division Series.
The Phillies will look for a series sweep when they host the Miami Marlins in Game 2 of a wild-card series on Wednesday. Philadelphia took the opener of the best-of-three set 4-1 on Tuesday.
Nola finished 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA in the regular season, going 0-1 with a 5.47 ERA in his final five starts.
The right-hander had never competed in the playoffs until last season, when the Phillies advanced to the World Series and fell in six games to the Houston Astros. He 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA in four postseason starts.
“A little bit easier since I kind of experienced it last year,” Nola said of preparing for his Wednesday outing. “I know what to expect a little bit more. But I’m just going to treat it like another game because it is another game. It’s just later on in the season, a certain amount of teams are in the postseason.
“Obviously, it’s a little bit bigger stakes than a game during the year, but it’s still another game. Still the same game. I’ve still got to go out and make my pitches.”
When Nola takes the mound, it will have been eight days since his last start. On Sept. 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he struck out eight while throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
“I feel ready. My body feels healthy,” Nola said. “I feel like I got some good work in this week.”
The Marlins will attempt to bounce back behind Braxton Garrett, a four-year veteran who has never pitched in the playoffs. The left-hander went 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 31 games (30 starts) this year.
“Yeah, it’s awesome. This is what I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid,” Garrett said. “It’s crazy being here, no doubt. I’ve just worked incredibly hard, and as I mentioned, I made that arm-slot change a couple years ago, and I feel like I really took off from there and kind of just built more and more confidence as each season went on.
“Yeah, of course it means a lot. I had one of my best years this year, and I plan to continue to refine and make everything better and keep getting better.”
With the Marlins in desperate need of a win to keep their season alive, Braxton won’t change his mindset.
“No matter what, I’m going to go in confident and pitch the best I can,” he said.
Marlins manager Skip Schumaker is confident that his players will be prepared for Game 2.
“I think they know what’s at stake. I think they know what tomorrow means,” Schumaker said after the Tuesday loss. “We’re going to do the same thing we’ve always done is go on game plan and try to beat Nola tomorrow. That’s what we have always done, and I don’t think that’s going to change tomorrow.”
The Phillies certainly don’t want anything to the different. In Game 1, Nick Castellanos doubled twice and knocked in a run, Trea Turner had two hits and two stolen bases, and Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott and Cristian Pache each had an RBI hit.
“It was just a good team win,” Turner said. “Roll in tomorrow and try to get it done.”
Every Philadelphia player in the starting lineup had at least one hit of the team’s 11 total hits.
“I was happy with the at-bats,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “I think that, yeah, that will build some confidence going into tomorrow.”