Sometimes, as Pete Townshend told us, one and one don't make two, they make one. One day Nathan Eovaldi showed he's in peak form. The next Eduardo Rodriguez shows up positive for Covid-19. These facts will lead to Eovaldi being the Ace on Opening Day, and that is a good thing for the Red Sox.
A Healthy Eovaldi Is Dangerous
Eovaldi's well known injury history has been a punch line. But if there ever was a man made for a short season, it's him. Remember, in short spurts he's been unhittable. The most obvious is the 2018 playoffs: 22.1 Innings, 2-1 record, 15 hits, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts and a 1.61 ERA. The last time he was solidly health was the second half of 2018. Those numbers: 3-3, 3.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 60 Innings. If he's good he can approach 70 innings (12 starts, 6-7 innings per start). For the Red Sox some combination of the numbers above can equal or exceed all but perhaps Gerrit Cole in the division. That is Ace-like.
Let's compare. Masahiro Tanaka, who was just nailed by a Giancarlo Stanton comebacker, had these numbers last year: 11-9, 4.45 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 1.242 WHIP. Hyun-Jin Ryu was pitching in Dodger Stadium, a known Pitcher's haven. He has also never faced the DH consistently. So yes, his line last year is impressive: 14-5, 2.32 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 1.007 WHIP. But again, never pitched against the DH, or in the AL East. Most projection systems have his ERA booming to over 5.00 this year. Blake Snell is a big name, he did win the AL Cy Young in 2018. But last year, other than strikeouts, his numbers were pedestrian: 6-8, 4.29 ERA, 12.4 K/9, 1.271 WHIP.
I'll take a healthy Nathan Eovaldi head to head against any of them. And Tanaka with a concussion and Blake Snell with his injury issues are just as big question marks as well. Even Gerrit Cole won't have the Houston trash can brigade behind him, or the magic spin juice either.
Help For Eduardo Rodriguez
This allows Eduardo Rodriguez to recover at his own pace from Covid-19. But it also allows him to be second in the rotation. This moment is made for Eovaldi. Rodriguez, however, just made the leap with Chris Sale ahead of him last year. Now E-Rod can continue to hone his craft without the harsh spot-light on him. Rodriguez's development is one of the most important things for this team. Any help towards that is most welcome.
With the season beginning on July 24th, the specter of Covid-19 hangs about everything. Luckily for the Sox Nathan Eovaldi appears to be one thing they don't have to worry about this year. It's anyone's game in 2020, and Nathan Eovaldi could be the key to big things.
Featured Image via The Boston Herald