Mixed reviews for Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi’s latest appearance
Nathan Eovaldi showed some progress in his second appearance of the spring but the right-hander still has work to do in order to prepare for when the Boston Red Sox open the regular season in a couple of weeks.
This was Eovaldi’s first appearance since he faced the Minnesota Twins in Boston’s first spring training game on Feb. 28. His scheduled start was scratched last weekend due to personal reasons and the lengthy gap between outings might have factored into his inconsistency in this rematch with the Twins.
Eovaldi cruised through the first two innings, retiring all six of the batters he faced in order. It was an encouraging beginning to his outing considering he recorded only four outs while surrendering a pair of runs in his spring debut.
His command began to falter in the third inning as Eovaldi missed his spot on some pitches that the Twins made him pay for. Catcher Kevin Plawecki set up outside for a fastball that Eovaldi threw up and in to Byron Buxton, who hammered it deep to left field for a solo home run. Two batters later, Eovaldi hung a curveball that Brent Rooker drilled down the left field line.
While he managed to get out of the frame giving up only the one run, the Twins tagged Eovaldi for three more in the fourth inning. A pair of doubles highlighted the damage in the inning but not everything was hit hard against him.
Eovaldi made a good pitch to Andrelton Simmons on the outside of the plate that the shortstop punched into left field for an RBI single. That’s a good piece of hitting where the pitcher has to tip his cap to the batter. Rooker followed with a broken bat base hit that landed in shallow left center.
The outing ended up being a bit of a mixed bag for Eovaldi. Two great innings followed by a couple of shaky frames. The final line of four earned runs on seven hits over four innings looks messy but there are some positives to take away from this outing.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Despite that it’s still early in the spring and he had a couple of weeks between starts, Eovaldi had no problem dialing up the velocity. His four-seem fastball averaged 99 mph and he was able to top 100 mph.
Velocity isn’t everything though. Eovaldi got a swing-and-miss with his four-seam fastball on only two of the 30 times he utilized the pitch, per Baseball Savant. One of those capped a strikeout of Josh Donaldson to escape the third inning.
Eovaldi tallied three strikeouts in his four innings of work without allowing a walk. He’s never been a big strikeout guy despite his overpowering velocity, owning an underwhelming 7.1 K/9 for his career. That strikeout rate has topped 9.0 K/9 in each of the last two seasons, although the rising strikeouts across the majors has to be factored into his improvement.
The lack of walks is great to see though. Eovaldi has typically been stingy with the walks throughout his career. That wasn’t the case during his dismal 2019 season when he produced an alarming 4.7 BB/9 but he regained his control last season with a career-best 1.3 BB/9. He has now walked only one batter through 5 1/3 innings this spring, a promising sign that he has command of his pitches.
His ERA will make you cringe but the numbers don’t matter nearly as much as the progress he’s making at this point in the spring. Eovaldi is a long way from mid-season form but with another couple of starts planned before the season begins, there’s time to get on track if he continues to take positive steps forward with each outing.