Aug 26, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond (11) takes out starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (24) after giving up 4 runs in the 4th inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Has Nathan Eovaldi been unlucky or bad?

In a 162-game schedule, a player is more than likely to experience a couple of bad spells where nothing seems to go right for them. Unfortunately for the Miami Marlins, their starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is in the middle of one of those spells right now.

Eovaldi’s string of bad outings has come at an inopportune time for the Marlins, as they continue to try to stay alive in the Wild Card. As Clark Spencer pointed out, Eovaldi has been hit around in his last three starts, giving up almost 2 hits an inning.

However, over those three starts, Eovaldi has posted numbers that should have delivered better results. In his past three starts, Eovaldi has done a decent job in the things a pitcher:

 
IP
K/9
BB/9
HR/9
BABIP
LOB%
GB%
xFIP
8/13 vs STL6.06.001.500.00.34855.657.13.34
8/20 vs TEX5.07.201.820.00.50050.055.62.88
8/26 vs LAA3.110.82.700.00.66745.526.72.01

The numbers would certainly point out that Eovaldi has been extremely unfortunate in his previous three starts. His left on base percentage has been well below his season average of 63.6% and his BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play) has climbed up the past three starts, well above his season average.

Not all of Eovaldi’s struggles can be blamed on luck, as Eovaldi has struggled at time with his control on his pitches, leaving them up in the zone too much. His reliance on just two pitches as a starter is also something of concern, as the stronger starters usually tend to have three or more reliable pitches.

Another reason Eovaldi could be struggling at this stage in the season could be his inexperience of throwing this many innings in a season. Last season, Eovaldi threw 106 1/3 innings, missing the first two months of the season with a shoulder injury.

Before that, his career high in innings came in 2012, when he threw 154 1/3 innings between Double-A, the Dodgers, and then the Marlins. After last night, Eovaldi is currently at 165 innings on the season.

While the innings are only an 11-inning increase from his career high, that he’s thrown nearly 60 innings more than last season could be playing apart in his struggles, despite his ability to get into the triple digits in his last few starts.

At this point, the Marlins would definitely be wise to keep an eye on Eovaldi’s innings and skip a start or two when needed. An implantation of a six-man rotation could be beneficial for Eovaldi, as well as the other young starters the Marlins want to keep from stretching out with too many innings.

Despite his recent struggles, Eovaldi has put together a respectable season for a 24-year old pitcher. He owns a 3.31 FIP and a 3.81 xFIP in 165 innings of work. He’s slashed his walks per nine innings in half as well, while maintaining the same strike out rate as last season.

Eovaldi still has a lot of work to do improve as a starter for the Marlins long-term, but a season as an innings eater with a league average xFIP is promising for Eovaldi going forward. If he can improve his slider and work on another off-speed pitch in the season, Eovaldi can still develop into a decent number 3 starter. If not, Eovaldi still has the ceiling of a number 5 guy or even a solid closer.

Tags: Miami Marlins Nathan Eovaldi

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