#Yankees Evolve with Eovaldi
By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JULY 22- Nathan Eovaldi has seen the progress as does his manager Joe Girardi. Tuesday night in the Bronx, Eovaldi did not get the win for the New York Yankees but his splitter and fastball continued to improve and the 5/2-3 innings, two runs earned gave his team another quality start.
The pieces for Eovaldi continue to come together, as do other important elements of the puzzle for the Yankees. The bullpen and bottom of the batting order were instrumental in the 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles as they widened the gap a bit with a five game lead over Baltimore in the AL East.
Yes, the pieces are coming together for the 51-41 Yankees. Who would have envisioned leading the division and reaching their high water mark, ten game over .500? Four games into their second half of the season and with 70 games remaining, the Yankees are feeling good about themselves.
Good teams win games like the Yankees did Tuesday night. A two out go ahead double from Brendan Ryan in the sixth inning was the difference, and the run was scored because Didi Gregorius set it up with the two-out base hit.
Two key hits from the eighth and ninth men in the order. Yes, that is how good teams manage to win. And because Eovaldi gave the Yankees another quality start, and the bullpen duo of Delllin Betances and Andrew Miller once again closed the door in the late innings, the Yankees are continuing to evolve.
“He did another outstanding job and continues to evolve,” said Manager Joe Girardi about his starter who struck out four and walked three. But it is the splitter and a fastball that continues to improve that have cut down the amount of hits that Eovaldi is known to give up.
It worked again against the Orioles, and the right-hander is becoming a valuable part of a Yankees’ pitching rotation that is getting stronger with the signs also that CC Sabathia is turning it around, and that also decreases the need for GM Brian Cashman to seek help for more pitching before the July 31 trading deadline.
And with a pitch count of 99, Girardi had no hesitation of pulling his starter and having a strong presence out of the pen made the decision easier. Eovaldi said the bullpen is outstanding but the goal is to go deeper into games.
“It takes one pitch,” he said. That one pitch was a splitter that did not locate and Matt Weiters got a single through the hole at second in the sixth that tied the score at two. Overall, with the exception of that hit, there was that confidence of Eovaldi continuing his progression.
After walking Manny Machado to lead off the game, he retired the next ten Orioles before Adam Jones got a two-out single in the fourth. And not allowing a home run over his last seven starts also shows how far Eovaldi has progressed.
“The 0-2 pitches,” said Girardi. Earlier this season those were the situations that tested Eovaldi and now that the splitter is hitting both sides of the plate he has been able to get the needed outs that show the progression and he uses the pitch when behind in the count.
“My split has been the pitch for me,” Eovaldi said. “It’s one of my out pitches that’s helped me pitch a lot.”
And for the Yankees, who feel more confident about their chances, the improvement has come at the right time with a difficult stretch of games ahead in the next few weeks. it helps also that Betances continues to excel in his set up role, and that Miller is the premiere closer after another perfect ninth inning that notched his 21st save.
Yes, it’s coming together for the Yankees. And an improved Nathan Eovaldi only makes their chances that much better to secure a spot in the postseason.