The Yankees acquired Nate Eovaldi on December 19, 2014. They traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to the Miami Marlins for Domingo German, Garrett Jones and Eovaldi. Eovaldi’s 25th birthday is today, and this trade gives the Yankees a flamethrower who has the potential to help the rotation for years to come.
In 2013, Eovaldi’s ERA (3.39) and WHIP (1.317) were the lowest of his four-year career. Eovaldi allowed the most hits in the National League last season and had a high 4.37 ERA, but he did set career highs with 33 games started, 142 strikeouts and 199.2 innings pitched. The hard-throwing righty averaged 95.5 miles per hour on his fastball last season, which was the fourth fastest in all of baseball.
However, he does need to improve and rely on his secondary pitches more, in order to keep hitters off balance, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild could be the pitching coach to help him do just that.
According to Evoaldi, the two have developed chemistry so far. Pitchers and catchers have not officially reported yet, but Eovaldi has already thrown a few bullpen sessions with Rothschild watching. “We’ve already begun to work on things,” Eovaldi said after a workout at the Yankees’ minor-league complex this week. “He’s awesome. It’s going to be a lot of fun working with him this year.”
In 2014, Eovaldi primarily threw a four-seam fastball, slider (87mph) and curve (77mph). His slider generates more groundballs than other pitchers’ sliders and is harder than usual. He threw a change and sinker much less frequently last season. He often reverted to his fastball when he was in a in trouble last season, and the opposition came to expect it, so if he can improve his slider and curve in spring training he could have an ERA closer to the one he had in 2013.
In their bullpen sessions so far, they have been working on getting more consistency in his off-speed pitches. If he can successfully mix in his off-speed pitches while continuing to accurately throwing his elite fastball, he could go from being a average starter with a an elite heater to a consistently reliable one with All-Star ability.
(He is due to have a lower ERA this season because his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching – strikeouts, walks and home runs calculate what the ERA should have been) last season was a career-low 3.37 as a result of allowing about the same amount of walks and 64 more strikeouts than he did in 2013.)
He also recently reflected on his 2014 season, which had some positives and negatives. “I accomplished a lot that I wanted to,” Eovaldi said. “I stayed healthy. I got a lot of innings under my belt, controlled my walks. But my ERA was a lot higher than I would have liked it to (have) been and I gave up too many hits.”
The young emerging pitcher is proving to have a desire to improve on last season since he is putting in extra work with Rothschild. The fifth-year Yankees pitching coach, who helped Ivan Nova win 16 games in his rookie season, is very good at dealing with the mental and mechanical aspect of pitching, which should help Eovaldi improve his non-fastball pitches as well as adjust to pitching at Yankee Stadium and in the AL East.