Nathan Eovaldi, now of the Tampa Bay Rays, hadn’t started a Major League game since August 10, 2016 against the Boston Red Sox. Things have changed quite a bit for the hard-throwing hurler since then. For starters, that start way back in August of 2016 came with the New York Yankees. And while Eovaldi remains in the AL East, he’s taken a step down in terms of surrounding talent. But more than that, he hadn’t started a game since then due to a second Tommy John surgery.
So, what did he do on Wednesday night in his first start back? Put up six innings of no-hit baseball with four strikeouts against the Oakland Athletics. However, manager Kevin Cash would pull him after six innings with Eovaldi on just 70 pitches. But again, we’re talking about his first start back from a second Tommy John surgery. And while he understood the move entirely, Eovaldi simply didn’t care for it at the time. Per ESPN:
“I didn’t want to shake his hand,” Eovaldi started. “I haven’t gone seven innings in a really long time. So we played it safe and it was good. I would have liked to stay out there until I gave up a hit, but I understand the situation as well.”
Both viewpoints make sense, of course. From a competitor’s standpoint, Eovaldi just wanted to keep going. After all, he hadn’t been able to do this for some long. To come back and fire six no-hit innings while routinely hitting the high-90s with his fastball had to be one heckuva feeling. But on the other hand, the Rays don’t want to put their pitcher in harm’s way. And that’s where manager Kevin Cash is coming from:
“It was tough, there was no doubt, but we have to do what’s right by him,” Cash stated after the game. “He wanted to stay, but realistically, he’s not getting to the ninth inning. I’ll just blame [pitching coach Kyle Snyder]. I wanted to keep pitching him, but Kyle told me to pull him.”
Perfect, we’ll go with that.
Over the course of his seven-year career, Eovaldi holds a career 4.18 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 4.51 DRA. As for his Rays, they are a fairly surprising 28-26 on the season. They’re even on a five-game winning streak. And while we shouldn’t expect this type of dominance from him every time out, it’s good to see Eovaldi back healthy and throwing well. Long may it continue.