Milwaukee Brewers: Nathan Eovaldi is the missing link
The Milwaukee Brewers proved this year that they can make the playoffs without an ace. If they want to follow a similar blue print in 2019, they should take a long look at free agent starter Nathan Eovaldi.
Nathan Eovaldi is hitting free agency at the perfect time to absolutely clean up. Eovaldi has been playing professionally for over a decade, but he’s still only 28 years old, and won’t turn 29 until around the time pitchers and catcher report. He was originally drafted out of high school in 2008, and he’s had some twists and turns in his career, but he’s finally coming into his own. He’s also coming off an amazing season that saw him help the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.
He also makes a lot of sense for the 2019 Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff, and should come much cheaper than Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin.
How did Eovaldi pitch in 2018?
Eovaldi split the 2018 season between Boston and Tampa Bay. In total, he had 21 starts and one relief appearance in the regular season and managed a 3.81 ERA. He struck out 101 and walked 20 in 111 innings of work.
During the playoffs, Eovaldi did everything he needed to do to improve his free agent profile. He featured in all three series the Red Sox played in, and managed a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. He fanned 16, walked only three, and surrendered one homer while helping the Red Sox earn another championship.
Does Eovaldi throw hard?
Does he ever! Eovaldi averaged over 97 MPH on his fastball in 2018, but he’s also developed a cutter than sits around 92-93 MPH. He still has a slider, a splitter, and a curveball in his arsenal, but it’s the cutter and the heater are the pitches he relies on most.
Where does Eovaldi fit in with the Brewers?
Eovaldi is one of the better ‘hybrid’ pitchers on the market. He’s capable of taking the ball every fifth day, but he can also step into a relief role and work multiple innings.
If the Milwaukee Brewers want to use more than five starters next year, and occasionally use pitchers like Corbin Burnes or Brandon Woodruff out of the bullpen, Eovaldi could provide another weapon to use in the late innings. However, he’s just as capable of gobbling up four or five innings as an ‘initial outgetter’.
How much will Eovaldi cost?
If the Milwaukee Brewers want Eovaldi, they will have to spend. Eovaldi won’t come with the same cost as Keuchel or Corbin, but he’s not cheap. MLB Trade Rumors has Eovaldi rated as the 7th best free agent this year, and have him projected with a four-year deal for $60 million. That’s almost a steal considering Corbin is projected at a six-year deal worth $129 million.
There will be a ton of teams driving up Eovaldi’s price, but that doesn’t mean he’s out the Milwaukee Brewers price range. It just means that they’ll have to work a little harder or add a little extra to get Eovaldi to sign.
Is there any smoke around Eovaldi and the Brewers?
At the moment? There doesn’t seem to be much smoke around anyone, except for Kieran Lovegrove. The Milwaukee Brewers aren’t currently linked to Eovaldi, but that could change at a moments notice.
The Milwaukee Brewers have shown that they value versatility when they construct their roster. The team currently has too many starters for not enough positions, but that could be by design. The Brewers have stockpiled several cost-controlled, power arms that they can send out one after the other until the three-headed bullpen monster locks the game down.
Eovaldi has the pure stuff, peripheral stats, and flexibility that fits right in with the Milwaukee Brewers team philosophy. Also, having another capable arm to work two or three innings in a playoff game could come in handy when the Brewers can earn another playoff spot. He could start the game and dominate for a few innings, or come in later as the bridge to the late inning specialists. Eovaldi has a lot of attributes that the Brewers clearly value, and would fit right in with the current group of arms that are on the Brewers’ Major League roster.