Nola uses his cambio almost a fifth of the time. It sits around 86 mph and has a nice arm-side fade to it, dipping under barrels. He’ll go after anyone with this pitch, but has the same plan of attack each time: Bury it arm-side. It was slightly less effective in 2019, but was still a solid pitch.
Nola’s knuckle-curve, sitting at 79 mph, has average velocity for an MLB curve, but this thing averages almost twice as much horizontal movement than your tyical bender and still gets good depth. He loves throwing this thing (35% usage) and it’s a true strikeout pitch, getting a K rate better than 30% against both lefties and righties.
Nola uses both a two-seamer and a four-seamer, the latter taking the lead in usage (36% vs 11%). Both pitches sit in the low 90s and the four-seamer gets great arm-side run. Nola likes to work his four-seamer away to both sides of the plate, but the two-seamer is located on the glove-side much more often than not. Neither pitch got many whiffs in 2019.
Nola’s best pitch will probably always be his curve, but it was his implementation of his four-seamer as his bread-and-butter offering that allowed him to take the next step as an ace last season. The pitch was extremely effective at finding the strike zone (57.7%) and dropped its walk rate from 11.5% to 7.5%. The .212 batting average against is stellar for a fastball.
The curve has always been Nola’s best pitch. Last year it was on another level, riding a .443 OPS against to a pVal of 23.5. A true Money Pitch in 2018, Nola’s curve added vertical drop and struck out a bonkers 41% of batters who saw it.
The changeup was Nola’s least effective pitch last season. When you’re as good as Nola, all that means is a .243 BAA and giving up a few too many homers (six yacks on a 40% HR/FB rate). Still, batters whiffed on 17% of swings and hit almost 70% ground balls when they did connect. The 25-year-old adjusted his pitch mix in 2018 to feature the changeup as his third offering over his two-seamer. Look for that to continue this year.
Nola only leaned on his two-seamer in small doses last season, but it was effective. The pitch didn’t induce many swinging strikes, but it did lead to some extremely weak contact, resulting in a .189 BAA and .066 ISO, with just one homer given up on the year.