Sunday, April 17, 2016
NATHAN EOVALDI'S STUFF ISN'T ENOUGH
There are a lot of reasons to be frustrated right now. Nobody likes looking at a sub .500 record, but this will pass. A lot has been written about the hitting too. It is what it is. The thing that gets me right now is the starting rotation and how poorly they are doing. Three of the five have ERA's above 5.90. The other two have yet to record an out in the 7th inning. It really got to me watching Nathan Eovaldi pitch against the Blue Jays.
I could feel the same exasperation that David Cone was expressing on the air. It was a steady diet of pitches over the plate and outside. He never established the inner part of the plate, and he soon became very predictable and very hittable. Here's the thing. Eovaldi has good stuff. He always has. Yet he's never been able to be strategic about how he pitches. He can hit the high 90's with his fastball and we have all seen it. When he has hitters guessing, he becomes unhittable. He has yet to consistently keep hitters guessing, swinging wildly at off-speed pitches and alternatively blowing his fastball past slow bats.
I liken it to playing poker. Yeah, if you have a good hand you're more likely to win. Without a poker face, you're unlikely to keep people in the game and win big. You're also unlikely to win when you have a bad hand. It's all about keeping your opponent guessing. Eovaldi hasn't looked like the pitcher that keeps hitters guessing.
It's really all about the basics. Hard stuff in, off-speed away. Wasting one off the plate outside to set the batters eye before throwing a hard fastball on the inside corner. Going up the ladder. A steady diet of inside fastballs before getting the batter way out in front on a breaking pitch. This is how good pitchers beat good hitters, and the great ones do it with consistency.
Randy Johnson had this problem. He had a blazing fastball and a long arm and he could strike out batters. He consistently struck out about 200 batters per season between 1990 and 1992, yet he also led the league in walks all three years. It was in 1993 when he started mixing in off-speed pitches and varying his locations that he went to another level. Where he used to give up over 100 walks per season, he never hit triple digits after 1993. Two years later he won his first Cy Young.
This is where it's a tough call. We do not know if Nathan Eovaldi is going to figure it out and turn into Randy Johnson, or if he is going to keep doing what he's doing and turn into Phil Hughes - another guy with tremendous potential and a penchant for giving up a home run at the worst possible time. Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild should be on him about this. We know Brian McCann is trying to help, but Eovaldi keeps shaking his calls off. Hopefully, he gets the message and soon. Because it's getting frustrating.
--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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