Nathan Eovaldi’s debut season with the Boston Red Sox was an unusual one, to say the least.
The Red Sox pitcher was traded to Boston from the Tampa Bay Rays last July and quickly became a fan favorite among the Fenway Faithful after throwing eight scoreless innings against the New York Yankees in his Sox debut. He followed that up with another stellar performance before coming back down to earth.
But it’s what he did in the World Series that really solidified how he’d be remembered for the 2018 campaign.
Eovaldi tossed eight-plus innings in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3 of the Fall Classic against the Los Angeles Dodgers. And even though he ultimately surrendered a walk-off home run, it was his hard-fought performance that stuck with fans and had his teammates in literal tears.
But the right-hander wasn’t always known for his heroics. He’s undergone two Tommy John surgeries and has struggled to find a rhythm at times throughout his career. And the last time Eovaldi was a free agent in 2016, the Rays offered him a two-year contract to rehab his elbow and be a standout pitcher. But a 2018 surgery derailed his comeback once again before he was traded to Boston.
Eovaldi was put on an innings restriction of 140 and was at 121 at the end of the September, but he wanted to do whatever he could to help his team in the postseason. He did just that, and Rick Porcello thinks he knows what led to the gutsy postseason performance from Eovaldi.
“He’s staring at his future,” Eovaldi’s teammate told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “His career, pretty much, it was right in front of him. That (upcoming) offseason, becoming a free agent, and some of the things he’s had to deal with in the past. It was a huge risk, and that’s why it was such a selfless act because he went out there and laid it all on the line to help us win at that particular moment without knowing what was going to be in front of him.”
As for Eovaldi, he just wanted to perform well for his team.
“I mean, I understand now what I did, how it affected everybody, but I don’t know (how to measure it),” he said. “… they say that a lot about players: It’s not what you can do in the season, but what you can do in the postseason? It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a different ballgame. And you want the guys who can go out there and perform well.”
It all paid off in the end, however, as Eovaldi was rewarded with a four-year, $67.5 million contract in the offseason — a much different scenario as a free agent this time around.
Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images