Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi is back and ready for 2020
We’re just a few days into training camp for the 2020 season and there are some seriously positive things going on. One of those is the return of Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to Fenway Park. The fireballer is coming into the 2020 season looking to erase last year from everyone’s minds, and he just may do it.
During the first go-around of spring training, Nasty Nate was looking as good as ever and it felt like he was back to his old form. He went 2-0 through 8.0 IP with a 12-1 K-BB ratio, while giving up just four hits and not a single run. His pitches all looked pinpoint to where they needed to be and his heater was as gassed up as ever.
Not to mention, he had his trademark leg kick going something fierce. Always a telltale sign that Nate is feeling Nasty.
But, that was three months ago and we haven’t seen him throw a single pitch since then. That all changed this past weekend as he kicked off Fourth of July weekend with some serious fireworks. Eovaldi tossed three simulated innings of BP to a handful of Red Sox batters including Jonathon Lucroy and Alex Verdugo.
It took him just 45 pitches to get through the three innings of work, which is fantastic and left manager Ron Roenicke very excited about his progress.
"“The stuff was great,” said Sox manager Ron Roenicke. “The cutter was good, the slider, the curveball. Threw some really good split-fingers and the velocity was there on his fastball. He got what he needed to do today. Moving forward, we’re thinking his next outing will be an intrasquad game.”"
That’s some high praise in just his first work of training camp. It’s clear that the righty didn’t just sit on the couch eating Cheetos during the shutdown. You’re not going to just show up tossing in the triple digits if you’re not putting in the work on your own time.
This is going to be a big season for the Texan as he’s looking to bounce back from a miserable 2019 campaign. He spent the first half of the season on the IL while he rehabbed from an elbow procedure, and then looked beyond mortal upon his return to the mound.
"“I did a lot while we were at home,” Eovaldi said. “My arm feels great and I’m ready to go.”"
Eovaldi was Thor levels of powerful after being traded to the Red Sox in July of 2018. He came through big for Boston not just in the regular season but even more so once the calendar flipped to October. Unfortunately, he showed that he was still human after all and needed to have his elbow cleaned up during the offseason. After a few setbacks, he finally made a return, but he wasn’t the same.
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Now that Eovaldi has had the offseason to recover and now this extended period as well, he looks better than ever. I predicted he would be the two-man in the rotation, and with the mysterious status of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nate may be moving up a slot. Until we know more about E-Rod and what kind of shape he’s in, I think it’s safe to think that Evo will be on the mound for Opening Day.
"“Nate is throwing these games out here and is still throwing close to 100 (mph),” Roenicke said. “With him, the effort and the energy level, I guess he doesn’t need that game performance against another team to have that adrenaline and maximize his stuff."
If Nate can continue to progress and add more innings to his pre-season chart then I think he may be the one we’re leaning on to open up 2020. With only 60 games to earn a spot in the postseason, the Red Sox will need everyone firing on all cylinders. The fact that he can come back to camp after months away from the team, with no fans cheering him on, and toss 100 mph, shows what kind of competitor he is.
This is going to be a big season for Eovaldi and the Red Sox. Both need to prove that the investment that was made ahead of 2019 with his new deal wasn’t a mistake. Nate needs to stay healthy and post strong numbers for Boston to feel confident that they made the right choice. If he’s already looking this good in just his first day of camp, I think that investment will be good and safe for 2020.