Searching For Saves: Could Nathan Eovaldi Thrive In The Closer’s Role For Boston?


Outside of finding stolen bases, locating saves on the waiver wire is always a fantasy baseball favorite (and not always so easy).  Therefore the news that the Red Sox could bring Nathan Eovaldi back not just as a reliever, but potentially as their closer, is significant.  The question is, will his stuff play well in the role?

Even as a starter Eovaldi has been throwing his fourseam fastball harder since returning last year:

  • 2018 – 97.59 mph
  • 2019 – 97.56 mph

Maybe he adds another mph or two coming out of the bullpen?  That would certainly help his secondary pitches play up, though you think he’d eliminate at least one or two pitches from his arsenal.  Last season he featured five different pitches:

  • Fourseam Fastball – 39.74%
  • Cut Fastball – 32.34%
  • Split-Finger Fastball – 12.84%
  • Slider – 11.55%
  • Curveball – 3.36%

His slider was his best secondary offering, with opponents hitting .219 with a .375 SLG.  It also was his best swing and miss pitch (17.48% Whiff%), and added velocity on his fastball coupled with increased usage could only help his profile.

Granted he could have some occasional home run issues (46.8% career groundball rate), but that’s not enough of a red flag.  The strikeouts could rise and he’s always shown strong control (2.79 BB/9 for his career).

The return of Heath Hembree could change the outlook a little bit, especially if he fares well in the late innings before Eovaldi is ready to return (which could, and should, lead to Eovaldi potentially being eased into the role). That said there’s enough upside in the role to make him well worth stashing though don’t assume he’s already locked into the role.


  1. Trade Will Smith for Patrick Corbin? I have Hand, Vazquez and Yates but could use another started. I might be able to move one of Vazquez or Hand for Luis Castillo if that’s a better move

  2. Right now I’m somehow 4th out of 13 in saves but I’m nervous about jon security or trades, I have Smith, Jackson, Elias and Leclerc. I impulsively picked up Hudson last night with rumors of Giles being traded. How would you rank the following players in terms of who to prioritize for saves… Hudson, Castillo and Dyson/Watson/Melancon? As always thanks for the input!

    • I’d leave them exactly as you have them. Hudson has the best opportunity to claim the job for himself. Tampa Bay is hard to predict, and Castillo will share the job with Pagan. As for Sn Francisco, any or all of their RP could be traded at the deadline and that creates a situation you want to avoid.


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