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.