Eovaldi is primarily a fastball pitcher, averaging at 95 mph, though the radar gun has clocked him at 100 on occasion last year. He balances it with an effective slider that averages about 86 mph, which should keep hitters off balance. The question is, with those measurements, why did he get only 142 strikeouts in 199 innings. This will be one of his challenges in development. When you look at his pitch breakdown in 2014, he threw the fastball about 70% of the time. It could be that he has not learned how to mix his pitches well enough to fool hitters. This is something he will need to learn, but can improve with experience. He has his work cut out for him, but most pitchers that learn how to mix a 95 mph fastball and an 86 mph slider do very well. I think there is a lot of upside here.
One of his biggest challenges will be facing left-handed hitters. In 2014, he faced slightly more left-handed hitters than right handed, yet the difference in results is stark. Of the 14 home runs he gave up last year, 10 of them were to left-handed hitters. The OPS of opposing hitters Left vs. Right handed is .768 to .688. Unless he learns how to pitch to lefties, the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium will become his worst enemy.
Still, he manages to keep his time in the game more often than not. Do not let that 6-14 record fool you – that was more a factor of playing for the Marlins than his ability to pitch. Of his 33 starts, 20 of them were quality starts. In fact, of his 20 quality starts, he recorded six losses and eight no-decisions. Put those performances on a competitive team, and you have a legitimate major league starting pitcher.
The numbers do not always predict the future, but the fact that he is able to pitch at his level at the age of 24 tells you that this kid has a lot of potential. Once the Yankees fix their hitting problems, this guy can pay dividends for years to come.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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