It was a long road back, but Nathan Eovaldi has made it.
The hard-throwing right-hander missed all of 2017 following Tommy John surgery. He looked great this spring in five starts before going down just before Opening Day with bone chips in his elbow, delaying his return to the Bigs two more months.
Finally, he’s back. Six starts into his return, Eovaldi has a 4.08 ERA and 0.82 WHIP, walking only five batters in 35.1 innings for a 1.3 BB/9. He’s coming off arguably his best start of the season so far, allowing one hit in six scoreless innings against Washington. Averaging 97 mph on his fastball, Eovaldi’s elite velocity has been as good as ever and only trails Luis Severino and Noah Syndergaard among starters.
While it’s difficult to take much from spring training stats, we did see warning signs of this elite control when he walked only one batter in 16.1 innings. Eovaldi has shown good control since 2014, with a sub-3.0 BB/9 since that time, but his 1.3 BB/9 is truly elite.
Like the last time we saw Eovaldi on the mound in 2016, his biggest issue has been keeping the ball in the park with a 2.0 BB/9 to this point. Given his impeccable control, the long ball issues have been the difference preventing him from posting an ace-like ERA.
The good news in the near term is that Tampa Bay’s schedule is quite favorable. The Rays will go on the road for two interleague games next week, facing two bottom-five offenses in the Marlins and Mets. Eovaldi should be owned in most leagues already, but don’t be surprised if his ERA is closer to 3.00 when all is said and done at the conclusion of the first week of July.
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-Eovaldi isn’t the only Rays two-start pitcher you can find value from next week. Ryan Yarbrough has been in and out of the rotation as Kevin Cash strategically uses his pitching staff, but he has a sub-4.00 ERA and is coming off one of his best games of the year vs. Houston. The Mets and Marlins happen to be the top worst hitting teams vs. lefties this season, and that’s who Yarbrough will be facing.
-Even with one of his two starts next week coming at Coors Field, it’s hard to find reason to sit Madison Bumgarner. He hasn’t allowed a run in either of his last two outings and now has a 2.51 ERA in five starts since returning from a fractured pinkie on June 5. That said, it’s not all bright for Bumgarner. The diminished velocity and strikeout numbers that he showed last season have continued into 2018, and his K/9 stands at just 7.0. Since the start of last season, Mad Bum has just a 7.9 K/9 and 3.87 FIP. This probably isn’t a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher anymore unless something changes quickly.
-After a fast start to his season, Jake Junis has had an incredibly poor month of June. His 7.14 ERA in five starts this month is fifth worst in baseball, and he’s allowed a league-worst 10 home runs in 29 innings. Junis’ 3.33 K/BB ratio remains excellent, but his FIP is now above 5.00 with 22 home runs allowed. Those issues probably won’t be getting better anytime soon, as Junis faces Boston and Cleveland next week, who rank No. 2 and No. 3 in home runs this season, respectively. Now that the Royals have started their firesale, there’s even more reason to drop Junis.
-No pitcher with a sub-3.00 ERA has done so any quieter than Anibal Sanchez this season. The veteran right-hander has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings for the Braves, even after being released by the Tigers in spring training. Sanchez has fought through injuries this season, as usual, including a calf cramp that caused him to leave his last start. The move to the NL has helped Sanchez keep the ball in the park after posting a 2.2 HR/9 last season, and his K/9 remains above 8.0 for the second straight year as Sanchez has continued to throw his secondary pitches more often. Even with the success, Sanchez has started to regress over his last two starts and his performance over the last three seasons (5.67 ERA, 1.8 HR/9) should still give us major reason for pause in a potential two-start week against long ball elites in the Yankees and Brewers.
Note: Probable pitchers as of Friday, June 29, and are subject to change.
Corey Kluber: @KC, OAK
Nathan Eovaldi: @MIA, @NYM
Kyle Gibson: @MIL, BAL
Dallas Keuchel: @TEX, CHW
Rick Porcello: @WAS, @KC
Andrew Heaney: @SEA, LAD
Michael Fulmer: @CHC, TEX
Wade LeBlanc: LAA, COL
Mike Fiers: @TOR, TEX
Ryan Yarbrough: @MIA, @NYM
Domingo German: ATL, @TOR
At Your Own Risk
Jake Odorizzi: @MIL, BAL
Jake Junis: CLE, BOS
James Shields: @CIN, @HOU
Austin Bibens-Dirkx: HOU, @DET
Alex Cobb: @PHI, @MIN
Lucas Giolito: @CIN, @HOU
Max Scherzer: BOS, MIA
Zack Greinke: STL, SD
Madison Bumgarner: @COL, STL
Jack Flaherty: @ARI, @SF
Alex Wood: PIT, @LAA
Sean Newcomb: @NYY, @MIL
Carlos Martinez: @ARI, @SF
Robbie Ray: STL, SD
Junior Guerra: MIN, ATL
Kyle Freeland: SF, @SEA
Tanner Roark: BOS, MIA
Brent Suter: MIN, ATL
At Your Own Risk
Anibal Sanchez: @NYY, @MIL
Luis Castillo: CHW, @CHC
Elieser Hernandez: TB, @WAS
Wei-Yin Chen: TB, @WAS
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Tuesday, July 3: Chris Bassitt vs. SD
The Padres have the lowest OPS in baseball vs. right-handed pitching this season, while Bassitt has been surprisingly effective in four starts.
Wednesday, July 4: Wilmer Font @ MIA
The Rays have made Font a regular part of their rotation, and he’s allowed just one run over his last three outings, spanning 13.2 innings. The former minor league vet has the most favorable matchup possible against the Marlins.
Thursday, July 5: Adalberto Mejia vs. BAL
Mejia is set for a spot start on Saturday, and has a more favorable matchup on Wednesday if he remains in the rotation. The capable lefty had a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts with the Twins last year, and faces an O’s lineup with a .663 OPS against lefties.
Tuesday, July 3: Anthony DeSclafani vs. CHW
DeSclafani has been adequate since returning from an oblique injury, and faces a White Sox lineup that ranks just 22nd in OPS against right-handed pitchers.
Thursday, July 5: Shelby Miller vs. SD
Miller looked rusty in his return from the DL, but the schedule looks very favorable against the aforementioned Padres next week.
Friday, July 6: Derek Holland vs. STL
The Cardinals haven’t had a great time against lefties this season, ranking 19th with a sub-.700 OPS. Holland has had a bit of a resurgence in June, with a 2.70 ERA and 31/9 K/BB over 26.2 innings.
6: BAL, BOS, CLE, HOU, KC, LAA, NYY, SEA, TB, TEX, TOR
7: CHW, DET, MIN
5: CHC, NYM, PHI
6: CIN, COL, LAD, PIT, SD
7: ATL, ARI, MIA, MIL, SF, STL, WAS
Here’s some injuries to prominent players from the last week, and other players to watch for in the coming week. You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page.
Alex Avila: Placed on DL (hamstring)
Kris Bryant: Placed on DL (shoulder)
Clay Buchholz: Placed on DL (oblique)
Dylan Bundy: Placed on DL (ankle)
Lorenzo Cain: Placed on DL (groin)
Carlos Correa: Place don DL (back)
Zack Cozart: Out for the season (shoulder)
Jaime Garcia: Placed on DL (shoulder)
Yuli Gurriel: Day-to-day (paternity leave)
Ronald Guzman: Day-to-day (concussion)
Chad Kuhl: Status uncertain (forearm)
Jordan Lyles: Placed on DL (elbow)
Brandon McCarthy: Placed on DL (knee)
Daniel Mengden: Placed on DL (foot)
Salvador Perez: Day-to-day (hand)
Aaron Sanchez: Placed on DL (finger)
Gary Sanchez: Will miss 3-4 weeks (groin)
Kyle Seager: Day-to-day (toe)
Caleb Smith: Out for the season (lat)
Kolten Wong: Day-to-day (hamstring)
Steven Wright: Placed on DL (knee)
Christian Yelich: Day-to-day (back)