In just a matter of a few days, Nathan Eovaldi’s injury went from bad to immeasurably worse. He was placed on the disabled list just four days ago with elbow discomfort, and he got multiple opinions on the injury. After discussion with doctors, it is now clear he isn’t coming back any time soon. According to multiple sources, Eovaldi will undergo surgery both on his torn flexor tendon and partially-torn UCL (Tommy John), and he will likely miss all of the 2017 season.
This, unfortunately, will likely be the end of Eovaldi’s Yankees career. Overall, he pitched to a poor 93 ERA+ over just 279 innings, and he picked up just 218 strikeouts in the process. It also closes the book on the trade that brought him here, whereby the Yankees sent David Phelps and Martin Prado to the Marlins for Eovaldi, Domingo German, and Garrett Jones. It’s pretty clear who won that one. Phelps put up a 104 ERA+ in 181 innings, and Prado has racked up a whopping 6.4 rWAR over 241 games.
This also spells serious trouble for the Yankees rotation. Currently, the rotation is: Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Chad Green, and Luis Cessa. The only other starter in the organization is Luis Severino, who has a ton of work to do before the Yankees can feel comfortable slotting him in every fifth day. And while Green’s start last night was encouraging, I wouldn’t call him a sure thing by any means. This also means that the Yankees need to sign a free agent starting pitcher, so we’re going to have to get excited for this mediocre bunch.
It’s hard not to feel sad about how this whole deal went down. Eovaldi came over with immense potential and a flaming fastball, and there was some confidence that if he refined his splitter and command, he could be a top-of-the-rotation arm. There were some who even thought this could be his breakout year. But, that’s the risk with young pitchers, and with pitchers in general.
Part of this rebuilding process means that you have to take a chance on players with high-upside but high levels of risk, and this can often be the result. Even though Yankees fans are in the midst of Yankees prospect excitement, the story of Eovaldi is a cautionary tale. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. I will fondly remember Eovaldi as a positive influence in the clubhouse, and he seemed like an overall decent person. He was a frustrating pitcher to watch, especially because of that darn fastball, but there’s no question that no one wanted it to end like this. I hope, at least, he gets one more shot before he hits free agency after next season.