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Monday, July 9, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: NATHAN EOVALDI SP TAMPA BAY RAYS

Yeah him again. Anyone who has been a habitual reader of this space knows the utter disdain/disgust I have had over the years for yearly gross underperformance of veteran starter Nathan Eovaldi.  In fact, Eovaldi was one of the most frustrating pitchers I have ever seen in that he was blessed with a 100-mph fastball and consistently graded out as having the best velocity in the game but that still didn't prevent him from getting his head handed to him almost every season.  The real problem for Eovaldi was that despite the on paper overpowering heater, he had little to no movement on the pitch which caused it to get continually pounded by major league hitters.  Add in Tommy John surgery that wiped out his entire 2017 campaign and Eovaldi was almost completely ignored in 2018 fantasy baseball drafts.  Fast forward to present day and Eovaldi's return from Tommy John has been a resounding success so far and it has come with the Tampa Bay Rays who never met a reclamation project they didn't have an interest in.  Going into his next outing and through 48.1 frames, Eovaldi has the following numbers:

3-3
3.35 ERA
0.81 WHIP
.190 BAA
8.19 K/9
1.12 BB/9
1.68 HR/9
.198 BABIP

Looking at the numbers, Eovaldi's 8.19 K/9 is at a career-best rate and is the first time in his career he has been above average there.  Eovaldi also shown excellent control which is a must to operate in the AL East.  Best of all, Eovaldi still has his extreme velocity from prior to the surgery as he currently is carrying around an average fastball that has come in at 97.4 which is right on career norms.  Unlike in the past, Eovaldi is getting swings and misses with the pitch but the sample size is still a bit too slow to say this is the new norm.  There also is the matter of the insanely lucky .198 BABIP which is in no way sustainable and will result in the ERA jumping.  Considering that Eovaldi already is at 3.35 with the ERA, any jump there could push up against some more ugly ratios there. With that said, Eovaldi has looked much crisper overall as a pitcher and should be added everywhere.  As far as how to handle him moving forward, Eovaldi should still be handled as a streamer as you bench him versus the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox of the world.  I will in no way endorse saying we have a new Eovaldi on our hands but the early returns look promising. 



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