Red Sox: Where does Nathan Eovaldi best fit in 2019?

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 3: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws a first inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on September 3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 3: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws a first inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on September 3, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

With the news of the Red Sox and Nathan Eovaldi agreeing on terms to a 4-year deal, one piece of the free agency puzzle has fallen into place. With his versatility and ability to work as a starter or out of the pen, where is the best place for Eovaldi?

Going into this offseason one of the biggest questions surrounding the Red Sox was whether or not they’d be able to re-sign pitcher Nathan Eovaldi. Earlier today it was announced that the Red Sox and Eovaldi agreed on a new 4-year deal worth $67.5 million. The deal is contingent on Eovaldi passing a physical.

Eovaldi joined the Red Sox midseason coming over via a trade with the Rays. After a career of bouncing around and not quite living up to the expectations, he found his home. In his time with the Red Sox, he posted a 3-3 record with a 3.33 ERA. Very solid numbers for a pitcher that has been anything but solid.

He made his first claim for the hearts of the Fenway Faithful in an outing against the Yankees right after coming to Boston. He went into Yankee Stadium and absolutely shut down the Bronx Bombers. Not once flinching at the crowd noise or big pinstripe bats. Walking into the cathedral of New York and shutting down the team that gave up on him years ago.

I remember watching that game and getting chills. Eovaldi had always been this guy with high praise and promise but injuries hampered his ability to reach that ceiling. This seemed like a statement not only to the Red Sox but to the Yankees as well. Fast-forward a few months and the Red Sox are in the World Series.

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The legend of Nathan Eovaldi was written in September and October. It didn’t matter when or where we needed him, he came through. In the postseason he would record a 2-1 record with an impressive 1.61 ERA with 16 strikeouts.

He would start one day and then tell manager Alex Cora to put him in the bullpen and use him as much as possible. He was willing to put his twice-repaired arm to the test in order to help his team win. The ultimate team player.

In Game 3 of the World Series against the LA Dodgers, the Red Sox found themselves going into extra innings and needing an arm. And I’m not talking 10 or 11 innings either, this game was played over the course of two days.

He would pitch the final 6-innings of the game and shut out the Dodgers until an 18th inning walk-off homer. A legendary performance that earned him a spot in the hearts of Red Sox fans the world over. Rick Porcello admitted to getting emotional after the game and seeing his counterpart give every bit of his heart and soul to the team.

"“That was the most incredible pitching performance I’ve ever seen,” Porcello said. “Actually after the game was over, I started crying because that was — I mean, he’s grinding. Every pitch. He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch, and it was special.”"

With his frequent bullpen appearances and ability to start any game, Eovaldi made himself incredibly versatile to the Red Sox and a major asset to Cora. So with what we know about Eovaldi, where do I think he is best for the Red Sox?

Where should the Red Sox use Nathan Eovaldi?

Honestly, he more than earned his spot in the starting rotation and that is where we can best utilize him. I know, not the most exciting analysis but we all know it’s true. And I wouldn’t put it past Cora to once again use Eovaldi out of the pen when the playoffs come around.

Boston has a rotation heavy on southpaws and Eovaldi will help break that up and change the flow of the pitching. As we all know he can also eat up innings on any given day to give relief to the bullpen. Not to mention he threw more 100+mph pitches this last postseason which tallied more than any pitcher. So he can follow suit with the fireballing of Sale and Porcello.

With what he did in his short time with the team this past season locks him into the #4 slot in the rotation in my eyes. I can’t see him surpassing any of the top 3 but he is perfect for that position. The three aces dish what they have and then Eovaldi comes in at either the 4th game of the series or to kick off the next. This’ll create havoc for opposing squads facing the Sox.

As the season progresses into the magic of October I’d love to see Cora utilize Eovaldi like he did this year and make him a wildcard pitcher. Have him retain his spot in the rotation but also use him in scenarios where he can best help the team win from the pen.

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Nathan Eovaldi was the priority in this free agent market for the Red Sox other than fellow postseason hero Joe Kelly. So with the news that the two sides have agreed and only a physical standing in the way, one of the dominoes have fallen.

This was a big move that the Red Sox needed to make going into the Winter Meetings and now I have that excited feeling I had last winter. I’m sure this is only the start to what Dave Dombrowski has planned for this offseason.