Heading into Thursday, it’s safe to say that the Boston Red Sox are playing like the best team in baseball.
At 71-32, they’re on pace to set multiple franchise records and have absolutely mashed the ball at the plate all season long.
Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are putting up absurd numbers and it’s easy to make the case for either to win the American League MVP award. Others like Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts and Mitch Moreland are exceeding expectations and make up arguably the best lineup in the MLB.
Ace Chris Sale is on a tear as well.
Right now, he looks like the favorite to win the AL Cy Young award. With an 11-4 record, Sale has an ERA of just 2.13, a WHIP of 0.87 and has been dominant, striking out 197 batters while giving up 87 hits in 135.0 innings.
Those aren’t “video game numbers”. They’re better.
However, behind Sale, the other Red Sox starters haven’t been consistent. David Price (11-6, 4.17 ERA) and Rick Porcello (12-4, 3.93 ERA) have shown glimpses of effectiveness, but neither has proven to be a reliable shutdown option despite their win-loss records.
The previously-injured Drew Pomeranz (1-4, 6.91 ERA) just returned to the rotation, but he looked shaky in his return on Tuesday and hasn’t been effective through nine starts. Further, Eduardo Rodriguez (11-3, 3.44 ERA) is currently nursing an ankle injury, which has led to starts by Brian Johnson (1-3, 3.81 ERA).
In other words, despite their prolific offense and incredible start to the campaign, the Red Sox could use some starting pitching help.
A much-needed addition
On Wednesday, they addressed the need, as they landed starter Nathan Eovaldi (3-4, 4.26 ERA) in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. They sent pitcher Jalen Beeks (0-1, 12.79 ERA) packing. The 25-year-old Beeks spent most of his time in Triple-A this season, posting a 5-5 record with a 2.89 ERA in 87.1 innings over 16 starts. He punched out 117 hitters and allowed just 70 hits in those innings.
Johnson will now move to the bullpen and Eovaldi will make his Boston debut on Sunday.
Eovaldi has been on a hot streak recently. Logging quality starts in four out of his last five appearances, his overall numbers were skewed from an atrocious start on July 13 in which he gave up eight earned runs in just 2.2 innings against the Minnesota Twins.
The seven-year MLB veteran right-hander will now join Boston’s rotation and has a clear chance to stay there for the remainder of the season.
"I assumed there was a possibility, of course, especially where I am in my career and the way my contract was for this year," Eovaldi said before leaving Tropicana Field on Wednesday, per ESPN. "I was assuming that I would be traded, but as for what team it would be, I wasn't thinking about that at all.”
It’s worth noting that Eovaldi spent the 2015 and 2016 seasons with the New York Yankees, starting 48 games in that span. Therefore, he understands the rivalry well and will now be on the other side.
"Those games are definitely exciting," Eovaldi said. "The fans are ... it's kind of one of those indescribable tension is always high and it's always a good series."
Boston needed to make a move and the 28-year-old was a logical addition.