New York Yankees Editorial: The Evolution of Eovaldi


Quickly, which New York Yankees pitcher sit in the Top 4 in all of baseball in velocity of his fastball? If you answered CC Sabathia, you are still living in 2010. It’s not Masahiro Tanaka, whose velocity has been noticeably a bit off since that pesky elbow injury. The answer is Nathan Eovaldi

More from Yankees News recently posed an excellent question. How is someone who has such a dominant fastball so darn hittable? MLB’s Statcast recently tracked Eovaldi’s fastball and found that in terms of velocity, the 25-year old righty throws harder and faster than Matt Harvey. That’s right, folks, Eovaldi, who averages 96.49 has a better fastball than The Dark Knight, whose sits at 96.1.

Harvey and Eovaldi are worlds apart. Yes, Eovaldi is still a young 25, but he is now on his third team in five seasons. Teams grow weary of Eovaldi because unlike his crosstown rival, Eovaldi is so hittable.

Statcast points out that it has nothing to do with Eovaldi’s control. He posted the same walk percentage as Felix Hernandez last year, and this year his 5.5 walk percentage has surpassed both David Price and Clayton Kershaw. Those are some hefty names that Eovaldi compares to — there are 5 Cy Young Awards, an MVP Award and many future awards to be won in Queens in those four names alone. Eovaldi doesn’t even sniff them in talent or numbers. How are those aces so far apart from Eovaldi?

Eovaldi has been one of the most hittable pitchers in baseball for some time. Last year, he led the NL in hits allowed with 223. This year, coming off of an 11-hit, 4.2 inning outing, he is already 7th with 76 hits allowed in 57.1 innings. Eovaldi is more of a Mark Buehrle than Matt Harvey.

The reason is that Eovaldi has no arsenal. He has two quality pitches, and when you can’t fool hitters and they are expecting a fastball, they hit a fastball. This is the Major Leagues, you can’t hope to simply over power opposing hitters with constant heat. Nolan Ryan was able to do it, but he sustained until he was 46 years old and never led the league in hits allowed. If Eovaldi keeps it up, he may not make it past 30.

Statcast pointed out some pretty frightening numbers about Eovaldi’s secondary pitches. Since the end of 2014, righties are hitting his slider at a .230 lick while lefties are hitting .310. He has only thrown his curve 9.8 percent of the time over the same span. He has tried and failed at several other pitches over the years like a changeup and cutter, but neither proved worthy of staying in his repertoire. But, his new splitter… well, maybe he has found one.

The magic of Statcast uncovered that Eovaldi is succeeding with his new pitch. He has only allowed hits four percent of the time he has thrown the splitter and almost 93 percent of the splitters that have been hit, have been ground outs.

Regardless, Eovaldi has still been an emotional roller coaster every time he takes the mound. He has hurled two 7 inning masterpieces against pretty stout lineups in Detroit and Kansas City, but more often than not, Eovaldi has been beat around thus far, despite a solid 4-1 record.

It’s curious as to why Eovaldi hasn’t been tried in a bullpen roll at some point in his career. Closers are often pitchers who have only one superior pitch, and a decent secondary one. Eovaldi and his blazing fastball seem like they would be more geared towards seeing less batters over a shorter window. Surely, part of Eovaldi’s struggles come from the fact that one time through a lineup, the opposing batters have hime figured out.

It doesn’t behoove the Yankees to move Eovaldi to that bullpen role as they are already stacked there. They need to exhibit patience and hope this splitter evolves into the pitch that makes Eovaldi more imposing… or at the very least, less hittable.

More from Yanks Go Yard