Red Sox: Nathan Eovaldi closes out 2020 by dominating the Orioles

Red Sox righty Nathan Eovaldi ends 2020 by stifling Orioles

Last night, Nathan Eovaldi made his final start of the 2020 season for the Boston Red Sox and he didn’t hold anything back. Though the season was lost long ago and the team has been eliminated from contention for some time, the starter had plenty to prove in his final outing of the campaign. With the offseason now firmly on the horizon, he can head into the sunset with confidence as he begins his preparations for 2021.

Before we close the book on Eovaldi’s 2020 season let’s take a look at what he did last night and how his final start could impact his role in 2021. The fireballer went out there last night and just smoked the Orioles, literally, he hit triple-digits on the radar gun a handful of times. He knew it was his last start of the year and didn’t want to hold anything back and he sure as hell didn’t. I’ll admit that I was totally wrong in saying he should’ve been shut down and Evo made me eat my words last night.

Right from jump street, Eovaldi was pumping 100mph heaters and the Orioles never stood a chance against him. It helped that he got some serious run support as the Red Sox started tacking on runs right in the first inning. Now that he had some run support, he could just cruise and do what he does best, strike people out left and right. The right-hander spoke with the media after the game and shared his mindset during the game as well as his plans for the offseason.

“Yeah, go out there and leave it all out there,” said Eovaldi. “I felt really good, I felt like I was ahead most of the counts, and it’s just put the guys away. So I felt like I left a couple pitches here and there where they were able to get on base, but I was able to navigate out of it.”

I’m not surprised that he took the chains off and went for it the entire night considering he was done after this start. Add in the fact that this was the first time in a while that he made it through a season without any issues relating to his twice repaired throwing arm. A pesky calf strain kept him from making a few starts, but beyond that, he was totally healthy from start to finish. He looked great in spring training as well as summer camp and he capped off the efforts with a strong regular season.

Eovaldi finished 2020 with a 4-2 record, which may not sound impressive, but he more often than not held up his end of the bargain. He wasn’t always perfect but there were a few starts where either the bullpen cost him the game or the bats just didn’t back him up. Records aren’t the be all end all that they used to be but they do offer a snapshot glimpse of the season. As far as his other stats are concerned, it was still a strong year. A 3.72 ERA in 48.1IP led to a 52-7 K-BB ratio, a 3.86 FIP, and a 1.200WHIP.

When the dust settles in 2020 for the Red Sox, Eovaldi’s year will be remembered fondly as he was promoted from being the fourth man in the rotation to the ace in what felt like the blink of an eye. He did what he needed to do in order to give his team the best chance to win every fifth day when he had the ball. Now it’s time to shut it down for the offseason, recharge the batteries, and reassess the gameplan for 2021.

“I’m going to treat the offseason as I would any other offseason,” said Eovaldi. “I feel really good going into the offseason, so that’s nice. Usually by this time, my arm feels a little bit tired, my body feels tired. But right now, I feel really fresh.”

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Red Sox starting rotation in 2021. We still don’t know the true health of Chris Sale after his Tommy John surgery. Eduardo Rodriguez is still recovering from the Myocarditis he developed due to COVID. And then there are the gaps that need to be filled through promotion/free agency.

Did Tanner Houck earn a spot for 2021 thanks to his impressive pair of starts since getting called up? Was Nick Pivetta’s debut just a lucky night or is he the real deal? Will the Red Sox activate Martin Perez’s team-option for next season? Only time will tell. For Eovaldi, his role is secure it’s just a matter of where in the rotation he’ll fall. If neither Sale nor E-Rod is good to go come Opening Day, then Evo will most likely get the ball again, pending a big free-agent signing.

Next: Pivetta commands his arsenal in debut

It’s been a blast watching Eovaldi step up this season and take over the rotation. I don’t think anyone expected him to perform at the level he has considering his injury history, but we all have to tip our cap to the righty. The Red Sox have a lot they need to consider this offseason and the pitching staff needs to be at the forefront of every meeting. If Boston can rebuild this staff then they have a serious chance to contend in 2021. Having another Nate at full health can only boost their chances when the calendar flips to next year.