The Yankees have an off day today and will open their regular season in one week (April 6). They finish spring training with six games in the next five days as they will play split-squad games on Thursday against the Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates. They will play the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium at 1:05 p.m. next Monday to open the season and will have another off day the day before.
Nate Eovaldi made his third start of spring training on Sunday and fourth appearance overall. In the 7-0 Yankees win over the Houston Astros, Eovaldi allowed only three hits in 4.2 innings while striking out five and walking none. He retired the first two batters of the fifth and then was taken out of the game, but the only negative about his performance is that he needed 89 pitches to get through his 4.2 innings.
“I worked a lot of 3-2 counts. It was just tough for me to put them away,” he said. “I felt like they were fouling off every pitch. I felt like I’d get ahead 1-2, 0-2 and then they’d work the count 3-2. It’s important to me to be able to put them away with one or two pitches.”
However, after allowing the most hits in the NL last season, working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild has definitely worked for him in spring training as he has been nearly flawless. Eovaldi gave up a run in his spring debut but has been able to put together three straight scoreless outings since then, which has led to an outstanding 0.66 ERA in 13.2 innings.
He has been able to pile up 14 strikeouts without walking a single batter. He has started to use his splitter more, which should help him allow fewer hits than he did last year.
His hits/9 innings is much improved this spring as he has allowed 10 hits in his 13.2 innings (6.6 hits/nine innings), which is much better than the 223 hits 199.2 innings pitched he had last season (10.1 hits/nine innings). If he can continue to have a high strikeout rate and low walks and hits per nine innings he will be a very valuable No. 4 pitcher.
The Yankees were able to total 11 hits in the shutout win and three of them were by third baseman Chase Headley. He hit his third homer and has been the team’s best hitter during spring training. He seems to be on track to hit like he did during his two months with the Yankees last season and not how he did previously with the San Diego Padres. Headley also hit a two-run single and emerging outfield prospect Slade Heathcott had an RBI single.
Eovaldi will get his first official start as a Yankee in the first game of the series against the Boston Red Sox on April 10. On Tuesday, Opening Day starter Masahiro Tanaka will make his final spring training start when the Yankees play in Ft. Myers against the Minnesota Twins.