When the Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi this past offseason, they acquired a 25-year-old with a big arm and some things to iron out. Eovaldi’s strikeout rate doesn’t match his stuff and he led the NL in hits allowed last season. He’s not a finished product.
In Eovaldi, the Yankees also acquired the best right-handed pitcher in baseball at shutting down the running game. Eovaldi has allowed only two stolen bases and six stolen base attempts over the last two seasons, which is roughly one steal attempt every 51 innings. Adam Wainwright is a distant second among righties at 33 innings between steal attempts, and Wainwright has the advantage of throwing to Yadier Molina.
Thanks to the magic of BBWAA membership, I spoke to Eovaldi about his ability to shut down the opposing team’s running game yesterday, and he made it clear it was no fluke. He takes pride in keeping runners close to first base and has worked hard to learn how to keep runners on their heels, specifically with a quick slide step and by varying his times to the plate.
You can read about Eovaldi’s slide step skills at CBS’s Eye on Baseball. He’ll make his first start of the season on Friday night, against a Red Sox team without many stolen base threats.