Nathan Eovaldi red hot as Texas Rangers stretch their lead in the AL West
The Texas Rangers are out in front of the AL West thanks to a stellar pitching rotation. None are as hot as Nathan Eovaldi right now.
It is one thing is to have a great pitching rotation on paper. It is a completely different proposition to see that machine spring to life. When everything is clicking on a baseball team, it is a beautiful thing to behold.
The Texas Rangers made some marquee acquisitions in the off season, placing their focus squarely on the bullpen, signing Jacob deGrom, Andrew Heaney, Nathan Eovaldi, Jake Odorizzi, and re-signing Martin Pérez on a qualifying offer.
When the dust settled on free agency, the frisson in the air around Arlington was around the coup of getting former Cy Young winner deGrom. Eovaldi felt like a nice addition, rounding out the rotation, but nobody was expecting more than solid, workmanlike pitching from the former Red Sox starter.
How wrong we were.
Nathan Eovaldi has turned out to be a revelation for Texas. And in Fenway, while Xander Bogaerts’ exit was the focus of much chagrin, it may turn out to be Eovaldi as “the one that got away.”
While his season got off to a slow start, the last month has seen Eovaldi come to life, the gears of the machine grinding into an awe-inspiring symphony of sparks, magic, and sometimes even flames. He is currently on a run of throwing 28.2 consecutive scoreless innings, which includes three straight scoreless outings throwing eight or more innings.
Along that run, Eovaldi threw a complete game shutout against the Yankees on April 29, and he came within one out of doing the same to Oakland. In that game, the Texan notched up a career-high 12 strikeouts over 8.2 innings.
But it isn’t just the lack of scoring that is eyebrow-raising, but the manner in which they have been achieved. In eight starts this season, Eovaldi has struck out 56 batters while only walking eight. Over the last three starts he has walked just three, which puts him into an elite, albeit esoteric, club of only six players in the modern era to throw over 25 scoreless innings, while chalking up 25-plus strikeouts and allowing 3 or fewer walks over a 3-start span. Yes, that is a stat just chock-full of qualifications, but the names are what should grab your eye.
While Eovaldi’s current run of scoreless innings pitched is a long way off the MLB record of 59, held by Orel Hershiser, it is already the longest by a Ranger in the past seven years. Fans in Arlington are warming to the idea that the real coup of the off season may have been Eovaldi, while fans in Fenway are perhaps slapping their foreheads in frustration.
Having spent more than half of last season on the injured list in Boston, there is an undercurrent of concern in Bruce Bochy’s clubhouse. Eovaldi needs to be ring fenced, perhaps even protected, especially now that deGrom is out until June and on Tommy John watch.
Due to start on Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves, Nathan Eovaldi may extend that scoreless streak even further. But even if he doesn’t, he is already proving to be the key to the Texas Rangers three game lead in the AL West. As the Astros keep grinding out wins and the fortunes of the Angels fluctuate, one thing is certain in Texas: Nate Eovaldi is a keeper.