Nathan Eovaldi will bring the Cy Young back to the Red Sox
It’s bold prediction time, Red Sox Nation! The lockout isn’t ending anytime soon and with reports that the two sides won’t meet again on the serious topics until after the New Year, we have to get creative. So, since we don’t actually know when the 2022 train will get back on the tracks, there’s no better time to guess where our squad may finish.
Recently, I made a bold prediction that Rafael Devers was going to win the AL MVP in 2022, and while some agreed others did not, understandable. Today’s look into the crystal ball is all about the Cy Young and just who I believe will be raising the award when the dust settles on next season. Look no further than Red Sox fireballer, Nathan Eovaldi. That’s right, Nasty Nate will be your 2022 AL Cy Young winner!
I’ll give a moment or two to throw things, shout at your screen, or just deliver a massive eye roll, but I’m all in on the Eovaldi train right now. We’re coming off of the best full season of Evo’s career and it saw him just narrowly miss a top-3 finish in the voting by a handful of points. Now that he won’t need to carry as much of the workload going forward, I think that’ll allow him to focus on more on his start and not as much on the rotation as an entire unit.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and see what got him his fourth-place finish this year and what exactly he’ll need to do in 2022 to sit atop the throne. Nasty Nate led the American League in WAR (5.6) for all qualified starters, per Fangraphs. The righty had the fourth most innings pitched at 182.1 through 32 starts which were tied for the most.
That’s the surface-level stuff, let’s keep moving and see where his strikeouts and walks played a factor in 2021. Nate finished with 195 whiffs this season, 53 shy of eventual Cy Young winner Robbie Ray’s 248. Where he shined was in the walks department. He only gave up 35 walks which landed him 14th, and to put it into perspective, Lance McCullers Jr. had the most at 76.
As far as his other stats, Nate led the AL in FIP (2.79) and all of MLB in BB/9 (1.7). He nearly led all of baseball in HR/9 with a stellar 0.74 but was edged out by a hair by McCullers’ 0.72. It was one hell of a season for Eovaldi and a major ready why the Red Sox were two games away from going back to the World Series.
So, now that we’ve looked at some of the reasons why he finished as well as he did in 2021, how in the hell can he get to the front of the leaderboard in 2022? I would say the first step would be getting more innings under his belt. Ray edged him out by 11 innings this season and that alone could at least get him into the Top-3.
It’s really hard to nit-pick on a season that saw him as literally one of the best starters in all of baseball but that’s what we’re here to do.
I would also look at his strikeouts, yeah they were some of the best, but having that big of a gap between him and Ray is glaring. For that to improve he’s going to have to work his combinations even better than he did in 2021 and punish people with that heater, it’s one of the best in the game today.
I don’t worry about his walks as he’s a guy that doesn’t make many mistakes, but making guys pay more at the plate will be the biggest key to his success in 2022.
When I spoke about Devers, it was easy to point it what he needed to work on and improve upon in order to climb the MVP rankings, it’s not that easy with Nate. The man was a damn machine in 2021 and did everything that Alex Cora asked of him.
Honestly, if he puts up another year next season like we just saw, I have no idea how he doesn’t make it into that upper echelon of starters. Which is wild to think about considering his injury history and lack of major success elsewhere.
Nathan Eovaldi has been a rock for the Red Sox since coming over in 2018 and as he enters the final year of his current deal, will most likely be looking to put on a show for the league. Bringing home a Cy Young is a win-win as it means Boston saw some major success in 2022 and it puts a few extra zeros at the end of Nate’s next contract. With that all being said, I’m looking forward to seeing Nasty Nate etch his name into the history books next to some of the greatest of all time.