Red Sox ace caps off career year with fourth place Cy Young finish
Last night the winners of this year’s Cy Young Awards were announced and sadly, the Red Sox won’t be bringing that silverware home. Nathan Eovaldi finished in fourth place which is the cherry on the sundae that was the best year of his career. Boston’s ace often stepped up when the team needed him the most and when the lights were shining the brightest. As much as I thought he should’ve cracked the Top-3, I’ll take it.
Going into the 2021 season not a single person outside of Red Sox Nation was giving this team a single bit of credit. Considering how things went down in 2020, I don’t blame anyone. But things were different this year as we had our charismatic skipper back at the helm and it didn’t take long for the fellas to get back on track.
One of the few bright spots last year was Eovaldi as he went out every fifth day in a season that was lost damn near from the get-go, and gave it his everything. He went into this season with a few more reinforcements as we saw the returns of Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale, but for most of the season, it was the “Nasty Nate Show.”
Toronto’s Robbie Ray took home this year’s Cy Young, and rightfully so, as he was the best pitcher going on the AL side of the game. Gerrit Cole finished second with Chicago’s Lance Lynn finishing out at the top of the list. As I said, Nate finished fourth and missed cracking the Top-3 by only seven voting points. Had the Red Sox finished the season out a bit stronger that could’ve been what propelled him into that upper echelon.
Still, this was Eovaldi’s best complete season to date and we should be praising him for killing it in each and every outing in 2021. He totaled an 11-9 record through 182.1 innings of work with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.190 WHIP. To go beyond that, he led the AL in both starts (32), and FIP (2.79), while leading the entire MLB in BB/9 (1.7). His 9.6 K/9 in partner with that 1.7 BB/9 played a big part in why the Red Sox came within two games of the World Series.
It’s not often that a 31-year-old pitcher that’s undergone two Tommy John surgeries, as well as, several maintenance procedures to keep his arm fully operation has the best season of his life. Now that E-Rod has made his way to Detroit, the Red Sox will need Nate to replicate what he did in 2021 even more so next year. Luckily we’ll have a full season of Sale, a returning Nick Pivetta, and the possible additions of Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock to offer him support.
Speaking of the 2022 season, it’s the final year on Nate’s current contract as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent once 2023 hits. I remember after the 2018 season when Dave Dombrowski re-signed Eovaldi to that 4-year/$68M deal, folks weren’t too thrilled. At the time it felt like too big of a deal of an oft-injured pitcher who had only been here for a few months.
It was one of those contracts that really split the fanbase but he’s more than repaid the Red Sox for their faith in him. Granted, 2019 was a rough year due to injuries but the past two seasons have erased that nightmare. Now he’s the top dog in the rotation and he pitches every single game like it is Game 7 of the World Series, and I absolutely love that.
The free-agent class heading into the 2023 season is chock-full of starting pitchers with most being around their early-mid 30’s. If Evo has another strong campaign in 2022, I wouldn’t put it past Chaim Bloom to give him a short-term deal that is team-friendly but can keep the fireballer in Boston.
That all depends on this upcoming season and what moves the Red Sox make not just in this winter but at next year’s Trade Deadline. We know Bloom isn’t afraid to move expiring contracts at the Deadline in order to build toward the future. Personally, I would love to see Nate finish his career in Boston as he’s not only become a fast fan favorite but he’s more than put this team on his back since arriving at 2018’s Trade Deadline.
Nathan Eovaldi is coming off of the best complete season of his career and as much as I wish he could’ve cracked that Top-3 in the Cy Young voting, I’ll gladly take his fourth-place finish. As the Red Sox are working toward next season it’s clear that the righty is going to be a massive factor in their future success. With it being a contract year, I’m expecting to see Nate be as nasty as ever.