This Red Sox season has seemed like one long extended Alien Ant Farm, Michael Jackson “Smooth Criminal” mashup. No, no we are not ok. I said we are not ok. Didn’t you hear me? Oh, right, we’ve been hit. Nathan Eovaldi apparently is not walking through that door before late June or early July at the earliest.
It’s not just the starting rotation that’s been hurting, but the bullpen too. Ryan Brasier, as predicted, has regressed. This is putting a lot of strain on the most consistent member of Alex Cora‘s pen: Matt Barnes.
Lou’s point is a good one. Matt Barnes has too much on his shoulders. Imagine if he was given the job of Closer, the stability Craig Kimbrel insisted on. The only thing Lou’s missing is Barnes isn’t just the Closer, he’s the stopper, the only one Cora trusts this year with the most difficult part of the opposing lineup. So he’s the 7th, 8th and 9th inning guy.
Eovaldi To The Pen
Sometimes, as Pete Townshend told us, one and one don’t make two, they make one. Eovaldi’s well known injury history has bitten, but what if he doesn’t have to pitch 80 or 90 or 100 pitches? He has his big contract, he’s in the first year of a four year $67.5 Million deal. That needle that pushes into the competitive and fear centers of the brain isn’t there. He doesn’t need to be a sometimes competitive starter to make his dough. He’s made it. Couldn’t he be happy being a dominant Closer?
Sale, Price, Porcello, Rodriguez. Those are your top four starters. Yes, the replacements in the rotation have been dreadful, but 10 blown saves on the year so far are more important that the fifth starter.
Alex Cora used “The Rover” in the 2018 playoffs. He asked the starters to fill in the bullpen gaps. Eovaldi was the most successful. For his career he has a 4.21 ERA with a 1.352 WHIP. In the playoffs, as a Rover, against the Astros and the Dodgers, he went 9.1 innings, four hits, one walk, seven strikouts, one earned run. Some quick calculations get to a 0.99 ERA and 0.54 WHIP.
If Eovaldi can do that against the toughest competition in the league, he can do it on a Wednesday night in June, or any other day.
Make Nathan Eovaldi a $17 million a year Closer. Give Barnes another year as the setup man. Next year, when Rick Porcello goes elsewhere and Pablo Sandoval‘s $18 Million come off the books…Hold it right there. Sometimes the reasons that the Red Sox have the highest payroll in the league and can’t add any more are dumbfounding.
Regardless, right now, for this team, Eovaldi in the bullpen makes too much sense.