Two weeks ago, Nathan Eovaldi was a mid-rotation starter on a .500 team. Now, he is a key player on the Boston Red Sox, a team with championship aspirations.
When the Boston Red Sox traded Jalen Beeks for Nathan Eovaldi on July 25, it wasn’t looked at as a huge move. Eovaldi had a 3-4 record with an ERA of 4.26. He had only pitched 10 games for the Tampa Bay Rays after missing the entire 2017 season.
This was just a guy who was a better option than Drew Pomeranz, which isn’t saying much.
But now, after just two starts, he looks like a guy who could pitch for the Red Sox in the playoffs, and not out of the bullpen.
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In his first start in Boston, Eovaldi redeemed a nightmare outing two weeks before against the Twins. Still with the Rays, he allowed 8 runs on 9 hits in just 2 and 2/3 innings. But with the Red Sox, he went 7 innings, threw just 82 pitches, and allowed no runs on 4 hits against Minnesota.
Just to note, one night before, Jalen Beeks threw 3 innings in relief for the Rays. He gave up 8 runs on 10 hits to the Baltimore Orioles, the league’s worst team.
Yesterday, Eovaldi took the mound for his second start. This time, he was facing the New York Yankees, the same club he had pitched for when he had his best season back in 2015.
And once again, Eovaldi was near perfect. He went 8 innings, still no runs allowed, and again keeping his pitch count low at 93. Like Rick Porcello on Friday, Eovaldi was able to get quick contact while getting outs at the same time.
In two starts, he has dropped his ERA from 4.26 to 3.38. 15 innings, 0 runs, 1 walk, 2 extra base hits, and a whole bunch of new fans. It wasn’t until the 9th when Yankees hitters got any chance to make it a game, and Eovaldi was in the showers.
Big league arsenal
Obviously, it is not possible to stay on this current pace. Eovaldi will allow a run eventually, and he will probably get lit up once or twice. The Red Sox didn’t trade for an average pitcher who turned into Justin Verlander overnight.
However, Eovaldi clearly has the talent and the stuff to pitch for a contender. His fastball topped out at 100.4 yesterday, and that was his third to last pitch of the outing. Eovaldi features a cutter that can get around 94 or 95, which is unheard of. The slider, a perfect compliment to the cut fastball, drops 5 miles per hour on average to keep the hitter guessing.
Just for kicks, he also features a splitter that functions as his changeup and a curveball that he’ll throw a couple times a game. When Eovaldi has even three of his pitches on, the hitter will be off balance most of the game, late on fastballs and out in front on the slider. When he’s really feeling it, and all five pitches are effective? Well, we all saw what happened in the last two starts.
This can’t be happening
In just one series, the Red Sox given their fans even more hope for October. The offense dominated Thursday, Porcello and Eovaldi took control the next two days. What’s next? There’s no way David Price will bounce back from a nightmare outing at Yankee Stadium a month ago, right? There’s no way the Red Sox can sweep the Yankees in a 4 game series and lead the division by 9.5 games, right?
Something has to give, there’s no way the Red Sox can put out a rotation of Sale-Price-Porcello-Eovaldi in the playoffs AND have Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, JD Martinez, and Steve Pearce at the top of the lineup. There’s just no way.