The trade season is heating up and top-tier pitchers are in high demand. The Houston Astros are rumored to be in the hunt for hard-throwing Nathan Eovaldi.
There are quite a few highly sought-after pitchers available via free agency and the trade market, but there are also plenty of teams in need. The Astros are one of those teams that may be in that category, with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole the only left-overs from 2018. Recent chatter indicates Houston is one of the teams in hot pursuit of right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.
As I’m sure everyone remembers, Eovaldi, 28, started the third game of the ALCS for the Boston Redsox last season against the Astros. He only gave up two earned runs on six hits and was credited with the win in Houston’s 8-2 loss. He then appeared in game five in relief, surrendering one hit in 1.1 innings getting the hold. He then relinquished the mound to Craig Kimbrel to finish off the game and the Astros, clinching the AL Championship for the Redsox. Maybe he could return the favor next season.
Eovaldi went to high school in Alvin, Texas, and was a big Astros fan, but he was even a bigger fan of Nolan Ryan, also an Alvin High School graduate. Eovaldi met Ryan for the first time in June of 2015 when he was pitching for the visiting New York Yankees. Ryan, now an Executive Advisor for the Astros, saw something special in Eovaldi even back then.
"“I thought he pitched a really good game last night,” Ryan said. “I think that he probably has one of the better arms in baseball. I think he knows how to pitch and he has a good idea of what he’s trying to do. Nolan Ryan via mlb.com"
That year with the Yankees was one of Eovaldi’s finest, starting 27 games and winning 14 of those, against only 3 losses. He compiled a 4.20 ERA utilizing his four-seam fastball that has an average speed approaching 98 mph. That season ended short after experiencing elbow inflammation.
The history of injuries could be the issue of concern. Eovaldi came back to pitch for the Yankees in 2016, only to have it once again ended short by another elbow injury. That resulted in his second Tommy John surgery, his first when he was a junior in high school. He then missed the entire 2017 season recovering.
When healthy Eovaldi can be a force to be reckoned with. He has a nice repertoire of pitches including a fastball that can reach 100 mph. He also has an effective cutter and split-finger fastball. His return to the scene in 2018 left no doubt that his strength and velocity remains. He still has a fastball that averages just under 97 mph. Many of his stats, including his SO/BB ratio (5.05) and WHIP (1.307) were the best of his career.
If he can remain off the DL, Eovaldi could be a nice compliment to Verlander and Cole. I’m betting he would love to come to Houston and pitch in front of a home crowd. Wouldn’t it also be sweet revenge to turn the table on the Redsox in the 2019 ALCS?