Red Sox

Nathan Eovaldi elbow injury illustrates risk associated with him, but it was a risk worth taking

Nathan Eovaldi elbow injury illustrates risk associated with him, but it was a risk worth taking

OK, first of all, that came out of nowhere. Nathan Eovaldi delivered his best start of the season on Tuesday in New York, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one unearned run in six innings. He hit 99.9 mph and left with a 3-1 lead before Brett Gardner's grand slam left us bemoaning a lost April.

Eovaldi transitioned from that performance to "he can't straighten his elbow" in the span of 48 hours, which illustrates the risk each of Eovaldi's employers has assumed since he entered the league.

He is not just injury-prone, he's surgery prone. He underwent a similar elbow procedure last March that cost him the first two months of the season. He's also a veteran of two Tommy John surgeries, though one of them was during his junior year in high school. This time around, per USA Today, doctors are expected to shave the bone in his right elbow to keep any more loose bodies from appearing.

Those who wondered what the Red Sox were thinking when they signed Eovaldi to a four-year, $68 million contract this winter should feel free to gloat. I considered him a risk worth taking, even knowing he could encounter moments like this, because the upside is so high.

He showed what kind of difference-maker he could be last October, when he delivered the signature moment of the postseason, albeit in a losing effort, tossing six innings of stellar relief in Game 3 of the World Series before being walked off in the 18th inning.

He timed his breakthrough perfectly, just weeks before hitting free agency, and if the Red Sox wanted to keep him, they were going to have to pay him. The $17 million annually they committed might sound high for his track record -- he's sub-.500 lifetime with a 4.21 ERA -- but not his potential. Still only 29, Eovaldi is at an age when pitchers can figure things out. The risk was that he'd go bust, and Dave Dombrowski must be swallowing hard this evening, but the reward was even greater.

Maybe it still will be, but it's going to have to wait.

Finally: who replaces him? Manager Alex Cora said right-hander Hector Velazquez will start the next couple of turns through the rotation, but who goes after that is unclear.

The best prospect at Triple-A is right-hander Mike Shawaryn, a 2016 fifth-rounder out of Maryland who's 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.

The most intriguing name is left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who's 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA but has only made two starts at Double A. The team's best pitching prospect, Hernandez hasn't yet demonstrated a command of the strike zone (7 BBs in 10 IP), so it's unlikely he's ready, but to use this word again, he's got the most potential.

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MLB Free Agents 2019-20: Top 5 designated hitters

MLB Free Agents 2019-20: Top 5 designated hitters

One of the biggest question marks of the Red Sox' offseason is the future of J.D. Martinez. Will he or won't he opt out of his contract and test the free-agent waters yet again?

If he does, Boston is put into a tough position. There aren't a whole lot of guys out there -- if any -- who can step right into Martinez's DH slot and put up numbers anything close to the 2018 World Series champion's level of production.

If Martinez indeed decides to sign elsewhere (the White Sox, perhaps?), the Sox could be left scrambling for a cheap short-term replacement off the open market. Here's a look at the top options this winter:

Report: Curt Schilling wants to interview for Red Sox pitching coach gig

Report: Curt Schilling wants to interview for Red Sox pitching coach gig

Former Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling is reportedly interested in returning to the game of baseball. 

Schilling is interested in interviewing for the Phillies manager position as well as the Red Sox pitching coach gig according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale. 

Schilling has been an outspoken figure since retiring from baseball in 2009. He was brought in as an analyst by ESPN shortly after his playing days, but was fired in 2016 for making offensive posts on Facebook

There's no word yet if Boston is interested in letting Schilling interview for the position. The 52-year-old has no prior coaching experience.

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