Let the Nathan Eovaldi relief-pitching experiment officially begin

Rob Bradford
July 20, 2019 - 11:19 am

The Red Sox made what figures to be a very important move Saturday morning. They activated Nathan Eovaldi.

The reason for the heightened interest in the announcement (which also included sending Ryan Weber to Triple-A) is because of the role Eovaldi figures to fill. The righty, who went on the injured list April 20 with a loose body in his right elbow, is being viewed as the weapon on the Sox' bullpen the team has seemingly been searching for.

Eovaldi only made one rehab outing, striking out the side Thursday in Pawtucket. He did, however, throw multiple live batting practice sessions under the watchful eyes of the Red Sox chief decision-makers and training staff at Fenway Park.

His exact role? That remains to be determined. But rest assured it undeniably won't be as a mop-up man.

"We’ll find a way,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters in Baltimore Friday. “I do think that obviously we gotta protect him, but at the same time, he’s going to make us better. We feel comfortable with where he’s at stuff-wise. The game will dictate how we’re going to use him, but we’ll sit down and talk about it. We’ll use him in high-leverage situations. I don’t know if we’re going to work him into it, like go ahead and get an inning. He did that (Thursday). He feels great. We know what he can do as far as competing. We know the guy. So, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes."

Eovaldi has made 12 relief appearances in his career as a reliever, most recently serving in the role for four outings during last season's postseason run.

In terms of getting to the finish line, the Red Sox most likely will now be leaning on Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes and Eovaldi in the most important moments. Heath Hembree and Marcus Walden, both of whom have served as late-inning relief options at different points this season, also might find themselves in the mix. The Sox own the third-most blown saves (18) in the major leagues.