Giants Look To Split Series Against Marlins: Scouting Nathan Eovaldi


June 18, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain (18) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at AT

A walk-off single by Hector Sanchez propelled the San Francisco Giants past the Miami Marlins on Saturday afternoon. Miami, despite Saturday’s hiccup in extra innings, still owns a 2-1 advantage in this four-game set that will conclude Sunday.

The Giants will send Matt Cain to the mound, and the Marlins will counter with Nathan Eovaldi, who’s made just one start in 2013.

Cain has recovered from his late season woes to compile a 1.31 ERA over his last three starts. He held the San Diego Padres to just two runs over seven innings in his most recent outing. In 11 lifetime starts against the Marlins, Cain is 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA. He allowed just three runs in 14.2 innings against the Fish in 2012.

Eovaldi returned on June 18 after missing more than two months with shoulder inflammation that started in Spring Training. In six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he allowed just two runs on three hits.

August 8, 2012; New York, NY, USA; Miami Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (24) throws a pitch against the New York Mets during the first inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Scouting Nathan Eovaldi

Eovaldi is a hard thrower. Plain and simple.

Against the Diamondbacks on June 18, his average fastball was 97.7 miles per hour, and he toped out at 99.7 MPH. OK, not quite Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg or Matt Harvey-fast, but they’re within fractions of a MPH.

Eovaldi’s fastball garnered eight whiffs in 53 pitches, which is how many swing throughs Harvey garnered in his 13-strikeout effort against the Atlanta Braves on the same day. Except Harvey threw 62 fastballs while Eovaldi threw 53, as I alluded to above. Yes, it’s just one start, but the comparison does provide some perspective.

Perhaps Eovaldi’s uprising in velocity is an outlier. He did have more than two months to rest his inflamed arm, after all, and Brooks Baseball clocked his average fastball at 94.89 MPH in 2012. That’s still better than the norm, but unless he proves otherwise, his first start of 2013 seems to be the outlier.

As you drool over those lofty velocity readings, consider that opponents hit a robust .355 off Eovaldi’s fastball in 2012. The small sample size rule doesn’t apply either. The speed is good for show, but hardly useful as it’s ineffective.

Outside of the fastball, Eovaldi mainly uses a sinker and slider. Both pitches were successful for him in 2012, yielding averages of .252 and .157, respectively. He throws his slider about 18 percent more to righties than lefties, but his sinker is thrown equally to both lefties and righties.