I woke up on Sunday morning feeling super excited for Nathan Eovaldi’s first start as a member of the Red Sox. I wanted to get some writing done before the game, so I had set my alarm for 6:30 am.
(By the way, I’m currently living in Phoenix, so first pitch for the Red Sox game was at 10:05 a.m. for me – one of the real joys of living out west.)
While I was getting my early-morning work out of the way, all while thinking about watching Eovaldi make his first start, I constantly reminded myself not to set my expectations too high. It definitely wouldn’t have been a good idea to go into the game expecting Eovaldi to throw seven shutout innings and only allowing four hits despite that being exactly what ended up happening. Generally speaking, setting those kinds of expectations are going to end with disappointment for anyone not named Chris Sale.
Eovaldi, however, always been a pretty good pitcher, but never a great one. He’s only 28 years old, but he’s bounced around in his career, including a couple of AL East teams – the Rays and that Bronx team. He has a career ERA 4.22 – not tremendous, but solid enough despite being a bit below-average. Nonetheless, ever since the Red Sox acquired him from Tampa Bay in exchange for Jalen Beeks, I was pumped. Boston’s front office seems allergic right-handed pitchers for whatever reason – seriously, look at how many righty starters the Sox have had over the last few seasons – so it felt somewhat refreshing to see another righty in the rotation besides just Rick Porcello.
So essentially, that’s why I was so greatly looking forward to his first start. I would’ve been completely satisfied if he only went five innings and only gave up two or three runs. Those aren’t great numbers, obviously, but really I was just looking for him to keep the team in the game. Just as long as he didn’t get completely rocked.
Instead, Eovaldi went above and beyond. He silenced the Minnesota bats over seven innings, and only got knocked for a hit four times. At one point he made it through four consecutive innings with less than 10 pitches. When he came out of the game after the seventh, his pitch count was only at 82. It appeared he probably could’ve finished the job, but since he was making his first start with a new team in front of a raucous baseball crowd (the Fenway Park crowd was probably an upgrade over the Tropicana Field crowd, at least a tad), not to mention his general lack of deep outings this season with the Rays, there was no need to push him. He’ll have his hands full over the last two months anyway, especially with varying amount of uncertainty surrounding David Price and Drew Pomeranz, and even Porcello sometimes.
I don’t want to overhype Eovaldi after just one start – who knows, he could get obliterated when he faces the Yankees next weekend – but it’s hard not to get a little excited when he turns in a debut like that. Just for kicks, I even picked him up for my fantasy team immediately after the game.
There’s still plenty of season remaining, but for at least one start, it appears as if Dave Dombrowski knocked this trade out of the park. Here’s hoping for many more starts like this one from Boston’s new righty, Nathan Eovaldi.
Have a tremendous week, everyone.