Boston eyes Nathan Eovaldi as next closer

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)   Nathan Eovaldi #17 of the Boston Red Sox in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 5-3. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
A closing gig might be in Nathan Eovaldi's near future (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Red Sox are meandering through a mediocre season, just four games over .500. The offense has been fine — fourth in runs — but the pitching staff hasn’t delivered. Boston stands 14th in ERA (4.53), with occasional difficulties at every spot on the staff.

One man can’t fix this struggling group, but maybe Nathan Eovaldi can take a sad bullpen song and make it better.

You remember Eovaldi, an October hero. The Red Sox retained him with a four-year, $68 million contract. Eovaldi injured his elbow in April and hasn’t been heard from much since.

Closing Time
Closing Time

Enter Tom Caron, NESN broadcaster and a team insider. Caron reported Monday night that Eovaldi will eventually return to the Red Sox as a closer, and not as one of those committee guys. When Eovaldi is back on the mound, it’s expected — per Caron — to be as the ninth-inning, handshake guy.

Three relievers have taken on pieces of the closer gig this year, Boston’s first year following the Craig Kimbrel departure. Brandon Workman has seven wins and a pretty 1.70 ERA, but he’s also walked 26 batters in 37 innings. You worry about the bottom falling out.

Ryan Brasier has a 3.41 ERA and seven saves, though he’s been fairly lucky — FIP suggests a 4.72 ERA. He’s already yielded six home runs.

Matt Barnes is the opposite of Brasier — the peripherals like him (2.86 FIP), the front-door doesn’t (4.93 ERA). He’s collected four saves.

Eovaldi has eight relief appearances in his career. He’s finished three games. He’s never recorded a save. Of course, so many struggling starters turn out to be effective, even knockout, relievers.

If you have some bench space — or better yet, a DL slot — Eovaldi makes sense as a stash. The team is hoping to get Eovaldi back shortly after the All-Star break. The market has reacted quickly — his rostership tag jumped 18 percent in one day — but he’s still free to add in about half of Yahoo leagues. We’ve seen this type of story so many times.

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