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Nathan Eovaldi has been on another level

His velocity has been at a highpoint in October.

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Often when you see teams in the middle of boat-racing their way to a pennant, acquiring pitching can be their top priority come trade deadline season. The Dodgers acquired Yu Darvish last year. The Astros went out and got Justin Verlander in a last minute deal. The Cubs added bullpen help with a splash, acquiring Aroldis Chapman in 2016. The Royals added Johnny Cueto in 2015. The Red Sox fit into a category with these teams. Their pitching staff was more than acceptable, owning perhaps the best pitcher in the American League in Chris Sale and elite reliever Craig Kimbrel, supporting them with the serviceable Rick Porcello, David Price, Eduardo Rodriguez, Ryan Brasier, and Matt Barnes.

The problem was that pitching wasn’t necessarily the strong-suit of the trade market this season, especially starters. There was really no big name player to be had, with the best available starters looking like Nathan Eovaldi, Cole Hamels, and J.A. Happ. The Red Sox opted to deal with the Rays for the rental Eovaldi, their main move on the pitching side of things, sending away Jalen Beeks, a 25-year-old left-hander sitting in triple-A.

Eovaldi has long been known as the hard-throwing starter that couldn’t correlate the strikeouts with the velocity. He was in his third organization (Dodgers, Marlins, Yankees) by his age 26 major league season. He’d been having success, but after a badly timed down year with a Tommy John Surgery mixed in, the Yankees released him right after the 2016 season. He’d then sign a two-year deal with the Rays late in the offseason, subsequently rehabbing for the duration of 2017. Then after some early season rest and four rehab starts, he was ready to make his return.

Ten starts after his year-plus hiatus, Eovaldi looked back and as good as ever, striking out 53 and walking eight through 58 innings. His velocity was stable and swinging-strike rate was at a career high. Because of this, the Rays got to fulfill their goal in flipping him and the Red Sox had added pitching help, gearing up for a postseason run.

The success has continued for Eovaldi in a different uniform. Among 111 pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched since the trade, he ranks 13th in FIP.

FIP Leaders Since Eovaldi Trade

Season Name Tm IP FIP
Season Name Tm IP FIP
2018 Jacob deGrom NYM 85.2 1.54
2018 Blake Snell TBR 61.2 2.01
2018 Patrick Corbin ARI 70.2 2.04
2018 German Marquez COL 88 2.23
2018 Carlos Carrasco CLE 82.2 2.30
2018 Gerrit Cole HOU 65.2 2.32
2018 Corey Kluber CLE 77.1 2.42
2018 Max Scherzer WSN 80 2.47
2018 Lance Lynn 2 Tms 60.1 2.48
2018 Zack Wheeler NYM 68 2.51
2018 Kyle Hendricks CHC 79 2.72
2018 Justin Verlander HOU 70.1 2.85
2018 Nathan Eovaldi BOS 54 2.88
2018 Hyun-Jin Ryu LAD 52.2 2.91
2018 Trevor Williams PIT 65.2 2.98
2018 Shane Bieber CLE 69.2 2.99
2018 Noah Syndergaard NYM 79.2 3.02
2018 Kyle Freeland COL 81.2 3.03
2018 Walker Buehler LAD 80 3.05
2018 Clayton Kershaw LAD 79.2 3.15
Minimum 50 IP FanGraphs

In a Red Sox uniform, Eovaldi’s fastball has been on another level. Along with his velocity being up (97.0 MPH vs 97.5 MPH), the overall results reached a highpoint. A lot of this had to do with a September in which the pitch was as close to unhittable as you can get (.120 wOBA, .207 xwOBA).

That success has carried into October, helping him garner wins in both of his starts, allowing three runs over 15 innings. His last two starts have seen his two highest average four-seam velocities of the season.

With the Red Sox on the brink of a World Series appearance, Eovaldi figures to be one of the better weapons with the roll he’s on. He’s played a big part in their current run and now he’s getting to showcase his contributions on the biggest stage— just in time for his free agency.

*All numbers and graphs are as of October 17th and are before his game five relief appearance

Patrick Brennan loves to research pitchers and minor leaguers with data. You can find additional work of his at Royals Review and Royals Farm Report. You can also find him on Twitter @paintingcorner.