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Aaron Nola will start Opening Day for the Phillies

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Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has named Aaron Nola the Opening Day starter, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. The Phillies open the season on March 29 in Atlanta against the Braves.

Nola, 24, had an impressive 2017 campaign, finishing with a 3.54 ERA and a 184/49 K/BB ratio across 168 innings. Thus far, he has lived up to the billing when the Phillies selected him in the first round — seventh overall — of the 2014 draft.

This will be Nola’s first Opening Day start. He was a bit of a no-brainer for the Opening Day honor as the other members of the starting rotation — including Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, and Nick Pivetta — have had inconsistent results to date.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.