The Boston Red Sox have struck gold with the addition of newly acquired pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
In fact he’s not even in the vicinity of being considered among those all-time Red Sox greats.
While true, one thing Boston’s newly acquired pitcher Nathan Eovaldi has done is shown the ability to dominate opposing lineups just like those names have done in years past.
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Albeit he’s done so in just two starts, both have come at home in front of the daunting Red Sox Nation crowd that can alter the mind of a starting pitcher in midst of struggle; look no further than David Price in 2016.
So with the Fenway faithful behind him right out of the gate, what are the realistic expectations for Eovaldi?
He certainly shouldn’t be counted on for 15 consecutive scoreless innings with seven hits allowed, one walk and nine strikeouts.
But the one walk may be one of the main reasons Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made the move to acquire Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline.
With a career 4.14 ERA in 811 innings pitched Eovaldi has been a serviceable big league starting pitcher.
With his fastball velocity one may jump to the conclusion that Eovaldi is a strikeout machine. But that’s far from the case.
In 139 starts Eovaldi has had just one double digit strikeout performance. It came back in 2013 when he was a member of the Miami Marlins and facing a New York Mets offense that was tied for 3rd worst in baseball with 1,384 strikeouts that season and finished 74-88, third place in the National League East.
The transformation of Eovaldi in his sixth season pitching at the majors hasn’t been an uptick in strikeouts but rather the improved command of the strike zone, part of the recipe for a starting pitcher to experience success.
Eovaldi’s career ERA currently sits at 4.14 to go with a 1.34 WHIP. This season Eovaldi’s 0.98 WHIP has been the blueprint for success.
In 72 innings pitched this year, Eovaldi has walked a total of nine batters, well on pace to set a career best in terms of BB/9. He’s walking 1.13 batters/9 innings pitched.
With the refined command, Eovaldi would rank 6th best in the MLB with a 0.98 WHIP. Unfortunately he hasn’t pitched enough innings to qualify.
A 0.98 WHIP is elite. He would rank behind some of the game’s premier arms in Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber and Jacob DeGrom.
Eovaldi would be ahead of Gerrit Cole, Aaron Nola, Sean Manaea, Zack Greinke, Jose Berrios and Patrick Corbin, also elite company.
So with15 scoreless innings and nine strikeouts in two home starts against the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, everything Eovaldi has done up to this point may suggest he’s going to be something special in a Red Sox uniform like the names entrenched as the greats.
But comparing him to Red Sox all-time greats hasn’t been done, shouldn’t be done and likely will never be done.
While true, it doesn’t takeaway from two impressive starts that Eovaldi has strung together.
If his stellar command of the zone continues, Eovaldi could part of the puzzle behind the Red Sox capturing their 9th World Series ring as an organization.