Red Sox: Questions arise after Nathan Eovaldi’s latest injury

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up his second home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after giving up his second home run against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning at Fenway Park on April 11, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley /Getty Images) /

The Boston Red Sox added to their injury report this week when they placed Nathan Eovaldi on the IL. With a history of elbow injuries did they invest too much?

Just when it felt like things may be getting back on track for the Red Sox the foundation began to crumble. After adding Dustin Pedroia and Eduardo Nunez to the IL this week they also added righty fireballer Nathan Eovaldi to the list. That’s the name I worry about the most when it comes to injuries. With his history of elbow issues and a pair of Tommy John surgeries in the books already it looks as if Eovaldi may go under the knife again per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.

Eovaldi has been a reliable arm and someone that has more often than not put the weight of the team on his back. When it was reported that he had “loose bodies” in his throwing elbow it’s safe to say all of Red Sox Nation held their breath. This isn’t something new for Eovaldi though as he had a similar issue last March and was able to have a strong 2018.

During the offseason, the Red Sox and Eovaldi came to terms on a new 4-year/$68M contract thanks to his heroics during the postseason. He more than earned that contract with what he did for the Red Sox in game 3 of the World Series against LA. But having just turned 29 years old and having two major surgeries in his past, was that deal the right thing to do?

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It’s a tough question to ask because if you think with your brain, two Tommy Johns and not even 30 years old should be a giant NO. Then your heart starts to beat and starts to make some noise. This guy game to the team midseason and gave everything he had and in some ways became the heart of the Red Sox through the end of 2018. It really is a difficult thing to think about.

Eovaldi has been a pitcher that unfortunately has never truly lived up to his potential. When he first came into the league there were whispers of what his greatness could be, but it never came. Couple that with needing major elbow repairs twice, and it seemed like the light was dimming on his once promising career. Then he arrived in Boston and it was like he had been rejuvenated.

During his short tenure in Boston in 2018, he would post a 3-3 record with a 3.33 ERA while having a 48-12 K-BB ratio. That’s a hell of a season for a guy that has bounced around for the last few years. Then came October and the lights got bright.

Nasty Nate didn’t crumble under the pressure at all. In fact, I feel as if the big stage allowed him to shine even brighter. Often coming out of the bullpen in relief on nights he wasn’t starting, he carried a massive weight. Eovaldi is a major reason the Red Sox were able to win the World Series in 2018.

So then we have to go back to the question, did the Red Sox rush themselves in re-signing Eovaldi to the deal they did? I feel that they didn’t but I can also see the argument for the other side of the coin. With how soon the deal was signed it seemed pretty clear that both sides wanted something done and done quickly.

The surgery that could be in the near future for Nate isn’t anything heavy duty and he should be able to get back on the mound in no time pending setbacks. Having never gone through an elbow surgery I can’t honestly say what the recovery will consist of for Eovaldi though. But if it will allow him to be healthy and to pitch the way he’d like to, then it definitely feels like the right move.

"“I went right into the surgery last time and it worked out really well for me,” he said. “Just one of those things where we’re at in the year, too. It’s early in the season with a lot of time left, so I don’t want to let it get worse at the end of the season when we’re trying to make a run.”"

The Red Sox have more than enough talent between the bullpen and minors to fill the gap that Eovaldi will leave in the meantime. I could see them relying on the arm of Hector Velazquez as a spot starter for the short future while Eovaldi heals up. He has made spot starts for the Red Sox in the past and even recently this season. It makes the most sense and will be the easiest option for the team as opposed to going out and trying to find a replacement.

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This is a setback that the Red Sox can’t afford to have as they try and climb their way out of a massive hole. Nathan Eovaldi can be one of the best pitchers in the game when he’s on and it looked as if he was just finding his groove again. With plenty of seasons ahead now it the best time for him to get the elbow fixed and heal up. If the Red Sox want to make another run at the title they’ll need that right arm of Nathan Eovaldi to do it.