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Where Nathan Eovaldi ranks among trade deadline pickups

Rob Bradford
September 19, 2018 - 9:36 am

NEW YORK -- The day after the Red Sox acquired Nathan Eovaldi the questions immediately came Dave Dombrowski's way. Why Eovaldi and not Zach Britton?

Britton had just been acquired by the Yankees for three minor leaguers, including highly-touted starter Dillon Tate. The Red Sox needed bullpen help, didn't have a presence from the left side and were extremely familiar with what the former Orioles closer had to offer.

Yet it was Eovaldi who the Red Sox reeled in.

"I don’t mean to downplay (Britton) because he’s a very good pitcher, but for us, we think the fit was better to get someone like this," Dombrowski said.

So, nearly two months later was the Red Sox' president of baseball operations right in zeroing in on Eovaldi? Tuesday night offered some hope that he might have been.

For the second time in a Sox uniform, Eovaldi shut down the Yankees, this time throwing six shutout innings. He previously blanked New York for eight innings on Aug. 4. It is a trend that might matter.

The Red Sox might very well face off with the Yankees again in the postseason and if they do Eovaldi might help solve the kind of problem Alex Cora's club stumbled over once again in its 3-2 loss Tuesday -- late-inning relief.

For instance, two of the Yankees hitters who helped make their team's three-run seventh inning possible -- Gary Sanchez and Neil Walker -- are a combined 0-for-9 against Eovaldi. Gleyber Torres (1-for-8, 3 strikeouts) and Giancarlo Stanton (2-for-9, 3 strikeouts) also have had uncomfortable at-bats against the righty.

The problem is we still don't know for sure how Eovaldi is going to translate into the role he is believed to being headed for, life in the bullpen. We might be getting those answers soon, however.

"We'll talk about this week," said Cora when asked what was next for the pitcher.

If Dombrowski's strategy is going to bear fruit than it would seem that Eovaldi has to become a late-inning presence in the Red Sox' bullpen. Otherwise, there might have been other trade deadline options that should have been given more consideration.

One is Britton, who is starting to look like his old self with the Yankees. After some initial control issues, the lefty has only walked two batters in his last 14 outings, totaling a 1.80 ERA and .189 batting average against.

As for other trade deadline acquisitions ...

Joakim Soria (Milwaukee): After a strong start the veteran has fallen off in a big way, allowing opponents a .346 batting average in seven September outings.

Fernando Rodney (Oakland): The closer gave up at least one run in each of his first four September appearances before bouncing back with three straight scoreless one-inning appearances.

Jeurys Familia (Oakland): While most of his time with the A's has been solid, the former Met's last two outings have resulted in a total of four runs.

Ryan Pressly (Houston): Perhaps the best of the bunch so far, giving up just two runs over 20 innings since joining the Astros, striking out 26 and walking just two.

Brad Hand (Cleveland): He has been a welcome addition to an uncertain Indians bullpen, going 8-for-9 in save opportunities while managing a 2.31 ERA and .188 batting average against in his 23 games with his new team.

Brad Cimber (Cleveland): The righty has given up a lot of hits in his 14 2/3 innings (21), striking out just three. But he does still present an uncomfortable at-bat for right-handed hitters.

Related: Dombrowski explains why he picked Eovaldi over Britton

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