WEEI.com photo

Why Nathan Eovaldi might get postseason start, not Eduardo Rodriguez

Rob Bradford
September 24, 2018 - 10:53 am

It turns out those games in Yankee Stadium did mean something more than just a chance to pop another round of champagne corks.

Alex Cora told reporters Sunday that the plan now is to start Nathan Eovaldi Monday, with Eduardo Rodriguez coming in out of the bullpen. That is change of course from what the manager was saying was his original plan, which had Eovaldi the one being integrated as a reliever.

Nothing is official, but it's not difficult to read the tea leaves.

"Just for them, kind of like, to get used to it, too," Cora said. "We don’t know who we’re going to play, so we’ll make decisions later on. But Nate came out of the bullpen already. We know he can do it. I know Eduardo did it last year in the division series for whatever it was, two hitters or three, but it will be good for him to go out there and come in and compete from there."

The performance Eovaldi turned in at Yankee Stadium last week was certainly notable, giving up just two hits over six innings. It was his second straight dominant outing against New York while wearing a Red Sox uniform, having shut out the Yanks for eight innings on Aug. 4.

Conversely, Rodriguez's start in the Bronx was painful. The lefty needed 100 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings, giving up five runs along the way. In his previous start at Yankee Stadium Rodriguez also had some issues allowing five runs over six frames.

And in case you didn't know, there is a 50 percent chance the Red Sox will be facing the Yankees in the American League Division Series, with the fourth starter having to pitch in Yankee Stadium.

Pitching Rodriguez out of the bullpen is intriguing considering his stuff and ability to get left-handed hitters out. But he has only done it twice in his career, with the aforementioned relief appearance in Game 2 of the 2017 American League Division Series not going well (4 pitches, 2 runs). The lefty has had significant success against New York's Aaron Judge, however, with the slugger 0-for-9 against Rodriguez.

And Oakland?

Rodriguez has faced the A's once this season, giving up three runs on six hits in a 96-pitch outing. What is interesting to note is his success in Oakland where has totaled eight innings in each of his two starts, giving up three runs in one and just one hit in the other. Then again, if they needed a pitcher to come on out of the bullpen to get home run leader Khris Davis, Rodriguez would be the man, with the righty hitter 0-for-12 with seven strikeouts against the Sox hurler.

Eovaldi's only outing against the A's this season came in his first start of the season, tossing six shutout innings. His most notable matchup possibility? Jed Lowrie is 0-for-8 against the righty.