Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi needs to use 2020 to find redemption

Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi earns a new deal but doesn’t pay it back

When the Red Sox acquired Nathan Eovaldi at the 2018 trade deadline I’ll admit I wasn’t so impressed with the deal. I mean, the guy’s had a pair of Tommy John surgeries and has bounced around a handful of teams during his career. It didn’t take long for Nasty Nate to change my mind and I’ve never been happier to be wrong about an opinion.

Soon after joining Boston Nate would have to face one of his former teams in the Yankees. Not only was he being thrown into the other side of the Rivalry, but he’d be doing so at Fenway Park. He would silence not only the Bronx Bombers but every Yankee fan in attendance that night, instantly earning the love of Red Sox Nation.

Fast-forward to October when Eovaldi would go full Super Saiyan and become totally unhittable. Not only would he make starts for the Red Sox but when he was supposed to have off days he’d head to the bullpen and make himself available for relief. This would become a common theme for the Boston starters as they’d all volunteer to be ready if Alex Cora needed them.

There are plenty of moments, especially in recent history, that Red Sox Nation can look back fondly on in the postseason. One of the best and downright bravest performances came from Nasty Nate in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series.

Despite being scheduled as the next day starter, he would go into the game and pitch six strong innings late into extras. Though Boston lost thanks to a Max Muncy walk-off homer, Nate didn’t lose that night.

His efforts not only during the regular season but more importantly in October were a key contribution to the Red Sox winning their fourth World Series crown since 2004. His heroics would also play a factor in Boston re-signing him in free agency over the winter. The two sides agreed upon a 4-year/$68M contract keeping him in Boston through 2022.

Sadly, in the first season of his new contract, he would miss half of the season due to elbow issues in his throwing arm. Nate would need loose fragments in his elbow removed, a procedure he’s undergone before. He’d make his return late in 2019 but was a bit of a shell of the pitcher we saw the year before. In summary, he didn’t quite live up to the contract that Boston had given him, but there’s hope for 2020.

Nathan Eovaldi has the opportunity to be a rock for the Red Sox

We’re just a little over a day from the calendar flipping to June and there’s no baseball on the horizon. I’m staying optimistic that the owners and players can come to terms on a proposal that gets things going for 2020. If we do get baseball this year then it’s a guarantee that the season will be incredibly short. At this point, we’d be lucky to see an 80 game season as time is not on anyone’s side.

For Nasty Nate, a shorter season could be like waving a red flag in front of an angry bull. We saw what he could do when he was at full strength with a short window to work in, 2020 will offer that same motivation. We didn’t get the biggest sample size during spring training but what we did see was pretty damn inspiring. Eovaldi was 2-0 through 8.0 IP, striking out 12, walking one, and also giving up just a single hit. Oh yeah, he had a damn ERA of 0.00 and his stuff was looking good.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks in Red Sox Nation that don’t give a damn about spring training, but when you’re looking at a pitcher coming off of an injury, it’s important. All I can say is, I am all for Nate going off in 2020. I recently picked up MLB The Show, and it’s a pretty fun time having him on the mound just uncorking 100 MPH gas.

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I can’t tell you what this season will look like or if we’ll even have one. What I can tell you is that Nathan Eovaldi sure looks ready to run the table in 2020. After a season of disappointment, he came into spring training with his eyes on the prize and it was pretty clear his focus is set on redemption. With the chance to capitalize on a shorter campaign this year, I’m putting my money on Nasty Nate to throw some gas and pick up some wins.