Flame Thrower Pitches Backwards?
In today’s baseball world there are a handful of guys on every team that throw absolute gas. In 2015, Nathan Eovaldi, has the highest average velocity for starting pitchers so far this year at 96.0 mph. However, Eovaldi’s past results have been rather inconsistent compared to other top flame throwers like Garrett Richards, Gerrit Cole, and Matt Harvey. Maybe changing scenery from sunny Miami to pitching in the Bronx under the tutelage of Larry Rothschild and Brian McCann could guide the unpredictable hard thrower in the right direction.
Friday night I sat down to watch the Yankees game and, like any other Yankees fan, I didn’t know which Nathan Eovaldi was going to show up that night. The only thing I knew was that I was going to see one of the most powerful arms in the game try to blow it by what has been one of this year’s most exciting lineups in the Houston Astros. Things didn’t start quite how I expected, though, as I watched a 77 mph curveball drop in for a ball on the first pitch of the game. I thought to myself, tonight is going to be different.
Eovaldi looked great the whole night keeping the Astros hitters off balance. Usually when Eovaldi gets hit hard, it is because the hitters know when the fastballs are coming and gear up for it. This time they were surprised by it, and 98 mph finally looked how a pitch that fast should look when it misses hitters bats. He recorded his lowest FIP of the year at 2.08. He kept hitters off balance the whole night with his lowest hard hit percentage of the year at only 11.8 percent. Eovaldi’s outing went 6 IP, 5 H, 6 K, and 2 BB. Both of the runs he gave up could have gone either way with a missed catch and tag by McCann and a bloop RBI single in the 6th inning.
Eovaldi threw 33 fastballs this start, which is his lowest this season (besides one very short outing in Miami). He threw 25 changeups, which was his second highest this season, and he mixed in a number of curveballs and sliders as well. When Eovaldi’s changeup is working, it is dangerous, which it definitely was this night. He faced 25 batters and started 17 of them off with an offspeed pitch, which is 68 percent. His career average is 33 percent. For a man who throws 98, that just does not happen.
Has Eovaldi slowly begun to reinvent himself as a crafty hard throwing righty? Way too soon to tell. We will see if he keeps throwing like this for his next couple outings, and if it works then we may have something here.