Red Sox name Nathan Eovaldi as Opening Day starter against Orioles

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 09: Nathan Eovaldi #17 pitches in an intrasquad game during Summer Workouts at Fenway Park on July 09, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JULY 09: Nathan Eovaldi #17 pitches in an intrasquad game during Summer Workouts at Fenway Park on July 09, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Red Sox set Nathan Eovaldi as Opening Day starter

Here we are Red Sox Nation, just a few short and yet incredibly long days away from Opening Day. It’s felt like ages since we’ve seen a meaningful game of baseball and now we’re about to dive head-first into a sprint to the postseason. As it was last year, Boston’s biggest weakness in 2020 will be the pitching. But one thing is vastly different this season than it was in 2019, they have a healthy Nathan Eovaldi to call on.

The fireballing right-hander was anything but sharp last year but we’ve already seen a 180-degree turn in his form in 2020. Injuries and what may have been some shaken confidence saw the World Series hero become a shadow of himself last season. An offseason of rest, relaxation, and rehab have the righty firing on all cylinders and he’s looked filthy not just in spring training but summer camp as well.

Going into 2020 it felt like Eduardo Rodriguez was the sure-thing lock to be named the Opening Day starter, and rightfully so. The lefty was the only Red Sox starter to show some consistency and potency in an otherwise dismal campaign. With David Price in Hollywood and Chris Sale on the IL, E-Rod was getting promoted to the top slot in the rotation. However, a positive COVID-19 test would put a halt to those plans, and Eddie Aces was kept out of camp until yesterday, ending his Opening Day dreams.

This is where Eovaldi comes back into the equation. As I mentioned before, he’s been lights-out so far in the intrasquad games and during his Cactus League outings back in spring. His arm looks strong and he has his control back, which gives me massive confidence in his abilities this year. I know I mention this any and every time I talk about Nasty Nate, but a sure sign of how he’s feeling is his follow-through. If that right leg comes whipping through after he releases the ball, then you know he’s on.

Just like Eduardo, with the two top-dogs out of the lineup, Evo was going to see a massive promotion in his role for 2020. Add in the late arrival of Rodriguez thanks to COVID and now Eovaldi is the top-man on the totem pole.

I can fully understand any reservations that Red Sox Nation may have with him being the ace of the staff right now, but for all we know, it’ll be just until Ron Roenicke can shuffle Rodriguez back into the mix. Eovaldi has given me zero worries in his abilities so far this year and I’m willing to ride it out with him going in the number one slot.

If he can keep that right elbow strong and healthy through 2020 then I imagine we’ll be seeing more of the World Series Nate and less of the IL riddled one. Through his eight years in the league the word “potential,” has always followed Eovaldi. At times he looked like he could have a mantle full of Cy Young Awards, and at others, like he should be pitching in a Wednesday night beer league.

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He joined the Red Sox at the trade deadline in 2018, easily one of Dave Dombrowski’s best moves as President of Baseball Ops. The righty would go 3-3 with Boston for the remainder of the regular season, but it was a game against the Yankees that earned him his keep. In front of the Fenway Faithful, he dominated his former club and sent them packing with their tails between their legs.

October would soon roll around and the dominant Red Sox would storm through the playoffs without blinking an eye. Boston would amass an 11-3 record through the 2018 postseason with Eovaldi being a massive component in the mix. If he wasn’t starting a game he’d be in the bullpen ready go if Alex Cora needed him to.

Look no further than Game 3 of the World Series. He came into the game in the bottom of the 12th inning despite being scheduled to start Game 4. That’s right, he’s that special level of maniac that he came into a game the day before he was supposed to start and threw six incredible innings. One missed pitch to Max Muncy in the 18th was all that separated him from glory, but his efforts will always be praised.

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So far in 2020, I’ve seen that same level of confidence when he’s on the mound. There doesn’t look like an ounce of doubt in his mind in what pitch he’s throwing and where he’s throwing it. That’s what the Red Sox are going to need from him this year if they want to make it anywhere close to the postseason. If Nathan Eovaldi can bring his absolute best each outing, then other teams need to begin to worry, because Boston is gonna get hot.