The circumstances of Thursday’s outing against the Baltimore Orioles weren’t lost on Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
The 32-year-old is set to become a free agent at season’s end and might have just made his second to last start for the Red Sox, a club Eovaldi has spent the last four-plus seasons with. With an uncertain future ahead, it put Eovaldi in a reflective mood when discussing his time with the organization following Boston’s 5-3 win at Fenway Park.
“It’s been incredible,” Eovaldi said, as seen on NESN postgame coverage. “When I signed the contract at the beginning of it, it was come in and win World Series championships and last year we were two games away from being back over there in the World Series. The years prior to dealing with COVID and things like that, obviously disappointing and obviously this year as well with the injuries that we’ve had. But I’ve loved every minute of being over here and putting on the uniform and hopefully there’s more to come.”
After having not pitched for the Red Sox since Aug. 12 due to a shoulder injury, getting back on the mound even with the team out of playoff contention was clearly important to the right-hander. Eovaldi, who made his 19th start of the season, could have mailed it in but wanted another chance to take the ball in front of the hometown fans.
“That’s why I was pushing to be able to make it back for at least two more starts and be able to time up to where I’d be able to pitch at home,” Eovaldi said. “It means a lot to me to be able to come out here and pitch in front of our fans, and of course, be able to put on the Red Sox uniform and go out there and compete.”
With Eovaldi jumping back into action after coming off the injured list, the Red Sox put him on a pitch count. He ended up throwing 72 pitches over 4 2/3 innings of work while allowing one earned run on five hits. Eovaldi also recorded three strikeouts.
It’s been an unusual season for Eovaldi, who owns a 5-3 record with a 4.05 ERA. He has been less effective as he’s dealt with injuries and the velocity on his fastball noticeably dropped as well. Eovaldi hasn’t been thrilled with his diminished production, but now feels like he’s in a better spot with one more start likely ahead — it should come next Tuesday in the second to last game of the campaign at Fenway — before he turns the page to next season.
“For me it’s been frustrating. I felt like I started to find my groove there and then the injuries happened,” Eovaldi said. “I may have came back a little quick and when I did come back my mechanics still weren’t right and I think that’s what led to my shoulder. Right now I feel really good mechanically and I feel like being able to repeat these mechanics, now we can try to build back up the velocity and things like that.”
Eovaldi added: “I started to lose those good things that I usually feel when I’m pitching. And I was getting sore in different spots. … I felt really good today. I feel like typically you kind of tell if you’re going to be sore or not coming out of it and I feel really good coming out of this one and building for that next start. I like the way I’m heading in toward the offseason and the way I’m finishing up.”