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Kapler raves about Nola's game preparation

@jessicacamerato
August 21, 2019

BOSTON -- After dazzling over seven innings for the second straight game on Tuesday, Aaron Nola will be on a five-day pitching schedule. He will make his next start on Sunday in Miami. Nola also is on track to close out the regular season against the Marlins. Given the Phillies'

BOSTON -- After dazzling over seven innings for the second straight game on Tuesday, Aaron Nola will be on a five-day pitching schedule. He will make his next start on Sunday in Miami.

Nola also is on track to close out the regular season against the Marlins. Given the Phillies' tight playoff race, having their ace on the hill could prove crucial for their postseason aspirations.

With a five-day schedule comes the responsibility to stay prepared. That's something manager Gabe Kapler isn't concerned about when it comes to 26-year-old Nola.

"Whereas with some of our pitchers we might be more influential in their between-starts work, Nola is going to be in control with how he prepares in between starts," Kapler said Wednesday prior to his club's series finale against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. "He's earned that. His track record is stellar as it relates to what he does after his last pitch and until his next pitch."

Nola struck out seven and gave up two runs off four hits over 104 pitches in Tuesday's 3-2 win against the defending World Series champions. After the game, Kapler described Nola as "far and away our best and most dependable pitcher."

With the victory, Nola improved to 12-3 with a 3.51 ERA this season, and 53-31 (3.39 ERA) over his five-year career. His resume boasts enough success that Kapler is confident the pitcher knows how to be at his best for each start.

"It's up to him," Kapler said. "If he wants to peel back a little bit from a volume perspective, he'll do it. If he wants to work out a little bit less, just to have a little less wear and tear on his body, he'll do it. If he thinks he needs more work, he'll do that as well. We'll just support him every step of the way."

Getting to know the 'pen

While Kapler knows what to expect from Nola, he still is learning a lot about his bullpen with just over a month to go in the regular season. Since last month, the Phillies acquired right-hander Mike Morin from the Twins, signed Blake Parker as a free agent and claimed Jared Hughes off waivers from the Reds, among other roster moves.

Kapler has a handful of new players to evaluate as he determines how to best help the Phillies reach their playoff goals. There's plenty of game film to study from their time prior to Philadelphia, on top of recent outings to examine with their new team.

Some of his early observations including Morin and Parker pitching well in high-leverage situations. Morin has not allowed a walk over 14 innings, and Parker has a WHIP of 0.72 in his last five outings.

"Less strange and more probably challenging and interesting is the way I'd categorize it," Kapler said of the revamped bullpen. "And also always remembering that there are other teams who are facing similar challenges. So who can be best at navigating their situations [that are] suboptimal?"

The Phillies' relievers are 24-20 with a 4.59 ERA over 433 1/3 innings pitched, entering Tuesday.

Jessica Camerato covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @jessicacamerato, Facebook and Instagram.