Red Sox: Eovaldi’s versatility will be tested with his undefined role

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) /
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Since his return to the Boston Red Sox a few weeks ago, fireballing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has been used in a multitude of situations.

When the Red Sox re-signed Nathan Eovaldi this past winter the expectation was for him to stake his claim in the starting rotation. Some injury flare-ups and a decrepit bullpen would throw a monkey wrench into those plans. Now that he’s back on the active roster his role has been wildly unclear and it seems like it’s going to remain that way.

A few days ago Alex Cora had mentioned that Boston was eyeing a return to the rotation for Eovaldi but in a limited star similar to an opener. Just as soon as that was announced and his first start in months was lined up he would enter Tuesday night’s game in relief. He would have a much better outing than those he’s had in the past but it would put his return to the starting lineup on hold.

It’s hard to tell what would be the best way to utilize the righty since it’s been months since he’s had to start but his relief appearances haven’t been stellar. With two Tommy John surgeries under his belt as well as two maintenance based procedures there isn’t any certainty in his future.

Weighing the options between multiple small appearances out of the pen or one extending showing in the rotation is a task I have zero desire to figure out. That’s why Cora makes the big bucks and we watch from the stands.

Alex Cora once again spoke about Eovaldi’s return to the starting rotation and that a weekend stint against the Orioles may be the right occasion but he still wouldn’t commit. For what it’s worth, Nasty Nate has stayed up to the task no matter when he gets to enter the game. Much like his postseason heroics he’s ready to take the mound whenever Cora needs him to.

"“I just try to keep that mentality of staying ready to pitch,” Eovaldi said. “As long as I’m prepared for it, I’m ready to go. If I’m told otherwise, I’ll be ready to go.”"

The Red Sox couldn’t ask for a better mentality from the right-hander as it’s exactly what they need at this point in the season. Boston went out on a limb and traded for Andrew Cashner in what has been a bust despite Cashner being decent in relief efforts lately. There’s also the injuries to David Price and Jekyll/Hyde issue that is Chris Sale.

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It’s hard to tell where exactly the right place in the lineup is for Nate as he’s getting paid starter money but hasn’t done much of that at all in 2019. After just a few starts into the year, he went down and had to get his elbow cleaned up. He’s also getting better in his bullpen work and it’s allowing nights off for overworked guys like Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, and Marcus Walden.

I don’t envy Alex Cora at all when he gets asked about what the plan for Nate is because it’s been damn near impossible to create one.

"“I feel like I know how to pitch out of the rotation and I feel like I’m getting the hang of coming out of the bullpen,” Eovaldi said. “When to bounce the breaking ball, when not to. Just coming in and trying to attack hitters.”"

This weekend against the Orioles is a must-win situation for Boston as they were able to take two games off of the white-hot Cleveland Indians. The Wild Card is the prime focus at this juncture of the season and the Sox find themselves 7.5 games back of the lead.

Time is ticking away and there isn’t much sand left in the hourglass. If Boston wants to make a move and take a shot at the postseason they need to do so now and that means getting Eovaldi in games.

The Red Sox need to sweep the Orioles. dark. Next

Whether it be in a relief effort or as a starter the Red Sox are far better with Nathan Eovaldi in the lineup than without. If that means he needs to keep a loose role going forward then so be it if it reaps the results they’re looking for. When he’s on Nasty Nate is unhittable and with every game being do-or-die, he’s the guy we need handing out the sentences.