Boston Red Sox relying on Nathan Eovaldi as their number three starter

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 08, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 08: Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during the first inning in Game Three of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium on October 08, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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Now more than ever, the Red Sox need Nathan Eovaldi to fulfill his end of the four year, $68 million contract he was gifted during the 2018 offseason.

Red Sox Nation was shook last night, as news of the trade that sent right fielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a bag of balls, a leaky grounds crew hose, and three $25 Quiznos gift cards.

This trade will probably go down as one of the most unpopular moves in Boston sports since Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Many fans already resigned themselves that trading Mookie was inevitable. And yes, Price’s name was also sprinkled into the discussion as part of a greater salary dump. Price being dealt wasn’t too surprising, but it leaves another gaping hole in the Red Sox’ 2020 rotation. With Price soon to don the Dodger blue, and Rick Porcello signing with the Mets, Nathan Eovaldi is now slated to be the number three starter to toe the rubber this season.

Eovaldi was rewarded handsomely after the 2018 World Series championship season. He went 3-3 with a 3.33 ERA for the Sox after being dealt from the Tampa Bay Rays. He had a memorable outing in Game Four of the Fall Classic, pitching six innings in extras in an eventual loss to the Dodgers. Although the Sox lost the game, Eovaldi’s gutsy outing proved he had the testicular fortitude that blue-collar Sox fans value so greatly. He saved the bullpen and rallied his team to victory the next night.

But last summer, Nate the Great’s first after his first big contract, Eovaldi struggled with injuries, ineffectiveness, and scuffled to the tune of a 5.99 ERA in 23 appearances, with only twelve being starts.

Eovaldi only started ramping things up in August and by that time, most of the Sox players had already booked their tee times for October. Entering this season, his age 30, Baseball-Reference projects him to go 4-4 with a 4.79 ERA in only 94 Innings Pitched. If those numbers come even close to fruition, it is going to be an even longer, and more miserable season than some Sox fans are already prognosticating in 2020.

At least Eovaldi is aware that his injuries, coupled with those of Chris Sale and Price led to a disappointing attempt at a championship defense in 2019. And he’s saying all the right things about being healthy and competing. Chris Smith of Masslive had this quote from Eovaldi yesterday hours before the news broke of Betts and Price being jettisoned to Chavez Ravine:

"“We’ve kind of all got that chip on our shoulder where we want to go out there and be healthy the entire season. Got a lot of ground to make up, I feel like. We’ve got a lot of things to prove. We all know how talented we are and how talented we can be and the potential we have.”"

Truer words were never spoken. Sale is coming off his worst season as a Major League starter, posting an ERA 1.37 higher than his career average and 2.29 higher than his 2018 campaign. Eduardo Rodriguez finally had a breakout year last season, so hopefully, he can continue to trend upwards.

Next. Red Sox are a disgrace for trading Betts. dark

But now that Eovaldi has slipped into that number three spot in the rotation, the flame-throwing righty needs to put his money where his mouth is. Stay on the field, pitch effectively, limit damage and be the type of starting pitcher that garnered him the questionable contract in the first place.