The Red Sox didn’t wait for the July 31st MLB trade deadline to make a pitching upgrade. And after completing a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston now has an intriguing option in the starting rotation.
Nathan Eovaldi (pronounced ee-VAUL-dee) is the 28-year-old righthanded pitcher the Red Sox added on Wednesday. He was acquired in exchange for 25-year-old minor leaguer Jalen Beeks.
Eovaldi has been used primarily as a starting pitcher in his career, and will most likely feature for the Red Sox in this role.
Here’s a general look at his career to this point:
1. He’s had multiple Tommy John surgeries.
As a junior in high school, Eovaldi experienced a “tingling in his arm” after throwing a slider, and “just knew something was wrong.”
It led to Tommy John surgery. Eovaldi became part of a rising wave of younger pitchers to have the procedure at a young age. As a result, his draft stock fell in 2008, with the Dodgers selecting him in the 11th round. Still, he opted to forgo his commitment to Texas A&M in order to become a professional.
Years later, having seemingly recovered from Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi was struck by other injuries while playing for the Yankees.
After pitching well for New York down the stretch in 2015, he experienced elbow inflammation that kept him out for what proved to be the remainder of the season. A season later, his year was ended by another injury to his pitching arm which resulted in a second Tommy John surgery.
Eovaldi missed the entire 2017 season recovering from the injury before returning this year with the Rays.
2. He has excellent velocity.
Having returned from multiple surgeries in his career, Eovaldi has retained remarkable velocity.
In 2018, his fastball has ranged between 93 and 100 miles-per-hour. He also possesses a low-90s cut fastball/slider, and a “nasty” split-finger fastball.
Returning to the Major Leagues for the first time since 2016 in May, Eovaldi threw six no-hit innings against the Athletics.
3. He’s well-traveled.
The Red Sox are Eovaldi’s fifth team. His Major League debut came with the Dodgers in 2011 before he was traded to the Marlins in 2012.
Coincidentally, his trade to Miami also happened on July 25 six years ago. In the 2012 deal, Los Angeles sent Eovaldi, Scott McGough, and cash to Miami for Hanley Ramirez and Randy Choate.
In December 2014, Eovaldi was traded again, this time to the Yankees. He was sent along with Domingo German and Garrett Jones to the Yankees for David Phelps, Martin Prado, and cash.
Following his second Tommy John surgery, Eovaldi was released by the Yankees in November 2016. He signed with the Rays in Feb. 2017.
He can be elite early.
Eovaldi can be exceptional when facing opposing hitters two times through a batting order. Beyond that, and his performance falls off.
As of July 9, batters facing Eovaldi for the first and second times hit just .155 and .149, respectively. But in third at-bats, their average increased to .303.
SB Nation’s Rays website noted how Eovaldi carried a 2.29 ERA in his first two times through batting orders, comparable to Chris Sale (2.09) in the same span. Yet considering Eovaldi’s 4.26 ERA overall, it’s indicative of his struggles later in games.