Today we continue our season preview of the Miami Marlins pitching staff by looking at the number 2 starter, Nathan Eovaldi. For all of the fan-fare that Jose Fernandez received last year, Eovaldi may have been the bigger surprise out of the two. Many expected Fernandez to pitch well thanks to an impressive repertoire of pitches at his disposal. Of course, few predicted that he would pitch that well. Fernandez’s success allowed Eovaldi to progress at his own rate without the pressures of leading a staff. The results were excellent.
Eovaldi overcame injuries at the start of the season, and was able to really impress many of us. The hard throwing right-hander boasted an ERA of 3.39, effectively keeping the Marlins in most of the games that he pitched. He logged just over 100 innings and only managed to secure a 4-6 record, largely due to the lack of run support that Miami experienced for much of the season.
Nathan Eovaldi throws hard, I mean really, really hard. Last year he was tops among starting pitchers who had more than 50 innings pitched with a 96.2 average fastball velocity. This speed has led some to speculate that he might have a future as a closer, but with the way he pitched last season, don’t look for him be moved out of the rotation anytime soon.
Interestingly enough, Eovaldi was only able to post a K/9 rate of 6.6, a little low for someone who throws as hard as he does. This may be attributed to a lack of movement, or not mixing his pitches well. I believe it is a rate that will increase as he learns to pitch rather than just throw hard.
For all of the positives that Eovaldi showed in 2013, we have to keep in mind that he is still only 23-years-old. This is exciting for Marlins’ fans as they have yet another young pitcher who has great potential to root for. Nathan’s ceiling is probably a strong number 3 pitcher, even though he will be looked on to anchor the 2 spot for the Fish. That may only be for 2014 as Marlins’ prospect Andrew Heaney is waiting in the wings. I believe Heaney will be a great #2 pitcher, better than some of the aces that other staffs have, but we will have to wait and see if he develops into the player I suspect he will.
Look for Eovaldi to continue to progress in 2014. The one real fear I have is Eovaldi’s propensity to suffer injuries. This can hinder a young players growth and derail their future success. He is way to young for anyone to even consider labeling him an injury risk, but if he can throw 165-190 innings, he will have a successful campaign.