The buzz out of Fort Myers over the weekend centered around Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
Photo courtesy of USA Today
Over the course of his 64-pitch, four-inning outing against Minnesota, the right hander threw 10 pitches at 100-102 miles per hour.
That's not a typo. We're talking double digit pitches at triple digit speeds.
In the middle of March.
This has actually been a common sight for a number of pitchers in spring training 2021. Mets ace Jacob deGrom hit 100 in his very first start of the spring and reached 102 in the first inning of his most recent start.
On the one hand, the high velocities we're seeing are in part the result of the COVID-shortened 2020 season in which inning counts were unusually low. deGrom, for example, threw just 68 innings in 2020. That's a far cry from the 200+ innings he had thrown in the three previous seasons.
On the other hand, Major League Baseball has fallen in love with the radar gun so it seems everyone is pushing 95 and up.
Eovaldi is a completely different case from someone like deGrom. A two-time Tommy John surgery veteran (2007 and 2016), Eovaldi also missed significant time in 2018 and 2019 due to injury.
So you can understand why I have been cringing every time Eovaldi has lit up the radar gun this spring.
Consider the 2021 Boston starting rotation. Eduardo Rodriguez, already named the 2021 Opening Day starter missed the entire 2020 campaign with a combination of COVID and myocarditis. Chris Sale is coming back from Tommy John surgery and probably won't be with the team until July.
So that leaves Eovaldi and a number of question marks in Garrett Richards, Martín Pérez and Nick Pivetta.
In other words, please go easy these last two weeks of spring training, Nate. We're going to need you a lot later this summer.
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