Nathan Eovaldi

20 Feb 19
WGEH

By RONALD BLUMAP Baseball Writer NEW YORK (AP) – Neil Walker's salary dropped from $17.2 million to $2 million in two years. Greg Holland was cut from $14 million to $2 million this season. Daniel Murphy fell from $17.5 million to $10 million. While Manny Machado agreed to a pending $300 million, 10-year contract with […]

20 Feb 19
FiveThirtyEight
It’s hard to imagine things going more right for the Boston Red Sox than they did last season. Boston jumped out to a scorching 17-2 start, was 38 games over .500 by the All-Star break, posted the most regular-season wins (108) by an MLB team in 17 years, and then steamrolled through the playoffs with an 11-3 postseason record en route to a World Series title. Statistically, it was probably the most impressive performance any major team had in 2018.[footnote]Among teams for which we had have game-by-game Elo ratings and predictions — in men’s pro and college football and basketball and Major League Baseball.[/footnote] But now the calendar has flipped to 2019, and as spring training warms up for the Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, Boston must focus on defending its crown — and staving off the inevitable regression that comes in the wake of a season as charmed as the one the Red Sox just enjoyed. As a rule, clubs that win a crazy number of ballgames in one season tend to come back down to earth quickly in the next. Of the 32 teams that cracked the century mark in wins (per 162 games)[footnote]We’re including teams in strike-shortened seasons — like the 1994 Montreal Expos — whose wins would prorate out to at least 100.[/footnote] since 1990, 28 had an inferior record the next year,[footnote]One team — the 101-win 2003 Yankees — compiled the same number of wins the next season.[/footnote] and 24 failed to return to the 100-win club. (Thirteen failed to break even 95 wins.) On average, these 32 triple-digit winners declined by 9.6 wins the following season. _ Teams that won substantially more than 100 games have tended to regress even harder. The 2002 Mariners, for example, won “only” 93 games after the 2001 squad tied a major league record with 116 wins; the 1999 Yankees won 98 a year after the team took home 114. The inescapable truth is that few major league teams actually have 100 wins of “true talent” on their rosters, much less 108. Most of these huge winners were aided by some not-insignificant amount of luck along the way. And it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox weren’t one of the luckier teams in baseball last season. According to the Pythagorean expectation, a team with Boston’s runs scored and allowed should have won four games fewer than it actually did. Furthermore, a team with Boston’s particular statistical profile (its singles, doubles, walks, etc. — both for and against) should have had a Pythagorean record five games worse than it actually did. Add up those two categories, and the Red Sox benefited from an MLB-high 10 extra wins of luck, whether through prevailing in the relative toss-ups of close games or through stringing hits together (or stranding opposing runners) in an unusually favorable manner. On top of all that, there’s another way a team can have everything go right for it, and that’s at the player level: Did everyone outperform their expected levels of performance at once? Injuries can often play a role here — though the Red Sox were in the middle of the pack in terms of man-games lost to the injured list. More pertinently, Boston also saw a number of players post career-best seasons last year, from American League MVP Mookie Betts (10.6 wins above replacement)[footnote]Averaging together the versions of WAR from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.[/footnote] to blockbuster free-agent signing J.D. Martinez (6.1), plus young up-and-comers such as Andrew Benintendi (4.1) and even longtime puzzles such as Eduardo Rodriguez (2.7). Altogether, 12 of Boston’s 21 regulars (those who played at least 2 percent of the team’s available playing time)[footnote]As measured by plate appearances and (leverage-adjusted) innings pitched, scaled to maintain WAR’s implicit 58/42 split between position players and pitchers.[/footnote] exceeded their established level of WAR, with only Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Nunez and the catching tandem of Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez significantly undershooting their previous production levels during the 2018 regular season.[footnote]You could also argue that more should have been expected of Rafael Devers, who had 1.1 WAR in a partial season at age 20 in 2017 but produced only 0.5 WAR with more than double the playing time in 2018. But Devers was also only 21, playing his first season as an MLB regular.[/footnote] And this is to say nothing of the unexpected performances the team received in the postseason from the likes of Steve Pearce — a fizzled-out former prospect who arrived in Boston via a midseason trade and ultimately won World Series MVP — or Nathan Eovaldi, another castoff who had a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 postseason innings. (Or, in general, the amazingly fortuitous splits the team had in crucial playoff situations.) All of those different ingredients explain how a team that won 93 games in 2017 suddenly exploded for 108 and won the championship a year later. But again, the pull of baseball’s gravity is strong. Based on data since 1990, we’d expect a team that improved by 15 games between seasons to give back about 5.2 wins the next season. It’s just another data point to toss onto the heap of statistical indicators that foretell a decline for the Red Sox heading into 2019. The good news for Boston is that if your starting point is a 108-win team, you have a ton of room to regress and still be one of the best teams in baseball. Even if the Sox didn’t truly have 108 wins of talent on the roster last year, they still played like a 98-win team according to their underlying statistics, and almost all of that team will be back this season (with the notable exception of closer Craig Kimbrel). According to an early preseason version of our 2019 MLB projections,[footnote]Not including Tuesday’s news of Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres, although that move has minimal implications for the Red Sox.[/footnote] we rate Boston as the third-best team in baseball, with a 95-67 projected record and a 10 percent chance of repeating as champs, which is also tied for third-best in MLB. Trouble is, that might make the Red Sox only the second-best team in their own division. Our simulations consider the archrival New York Yankees just as likely as Boston to win the World Series and actually think that New York is ever-so-slightly better talent-wise. Although the Sox got the better of the Yankees last season, winning 13 of 23 games (including an August sweep and a four-game division series victory), for all intents and purposes, our projections have the two teams in an absolute dead heat as we look ahead to 2019: The Red Sox still have a Yankees problem on their hands How our preliminary Elo ratings are forecasting the 2019 AL East race Avg. Simulated Season Chance to… Team Elo Rating Wins Losses Run Diff. Make Playoffs Win Division Win World Series Yankees 1566 95 67 +137 74% 41% 10% Red Sox 1564 95 67 +136 74 41 10 Rays 1527 86 76 +50 42 15 3 Blue Jays 1483 75 87 -52 13 3 1 Orioles 1421 60 102 -198 1 <1 <1 Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB season Sources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Caesar’s Palace And the Red Sox could be running out of time to make the most of their current core. By 2021, Betts, Bradley, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and Rick Porcello (plus potentially Martinez, who has an opt-out clause) will have all hit free agency. And team president Dave Dombrowski built 2018’s champion in part by bucking MLB’s prospect-hoarding trend and emptying out the farm system’s next generation in favor of short-term wins, so reinforcements aren’t exactly on the way. The result of Dombrowski’s moves was a championship, and one of baseball’s all-time great single season performances, so I’m pretty sure it was worth it. The question now is how steep the drop-off will be in 2019 — and beyond. In many ways, Boston caught lightning in a bottle last season, enjoying the kind of magical year that comes along only once every decade or so. But if history is any guide, the follow-up will have trouble coming close to matching the original.
20 Feb 19
Archy news nety

CLOSE What I'm listening to: Ted Berg spoke with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., much publicized, about the potential client of MLB, who had to wait for his chance to play football in the majors. USA TODAY Sports While MLB teams are enjoying their spring training camps in Florida and Arizona, USA TODAY Sports takes a look […]

20 Feb 19
NESN.com

[nesn_embed service=dailymotion src=”https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/k6K6QO92o4y0S9sXib7&#8243; width=”480″ height=”270″] Is this the year Eduardo Rodriguez finally takes the next step? His teammates and coaches certainly believe so. The Boston Red Sox lefty has teased ace-like potential during his first four seasons in the majors. But injuries, poor pace and general inconsistency have held him back and, in the case of […]

20 Feb 19
CBS New York

Many fans will complain the Yankees haven’t spent enough this winter. The real problem isn’t how much money they’ve spent, it’s who they’ve spent the money on.

20 Feb 19
NESN.com

[nesn_embed service=dailymotion src=”https://www.dailymotion.com/embed/video/x72p72i&#8221; width=”480″ height=”270″] The Boston Red Sox are in the enviable position of having a pretty good coach roll into town every now and again in Pedro Martinez. The Hall of Fame right-hander occasionally helps out some pitchers on the Red Sox’s staff, and the results tend to be pretty good — just […]

19 Feb 19
Boston Herald
FORT MYERS — What happens when the third-hardest-throwing left-hander in the majors scraps his old breaking ball for a new one, taught to him by Chris Sale? Answer: the kind of spring training hype that has Eduardo Rodriguez being built up as a Cy Young Award contender instead of just another back-of-the-rotation arm. “Everyone is in the best shape of their life, but Eddie really is in the best shape of his life,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora memorably declared as camp opened last week. On Tuesday, the 25-year-old Rodriguez took the mound for his first live batting practice session against some of his teammates. If there was a roof over the JetBlue Park practice fields, it would’ve blown off after Rodriguez flashed his signature mid-90s heater, one of the game’s best changeups and a reinvented slider that looks bigger and sharper than any breaking ball he’s thrown before. “I worked with Sale and most of the guys, asked everyone the way they throw the curveball and slider and how they finish,” Rodriguez said. “But mostly Sale, because he has the best (expletive) slider in the game, so that’s how we do it.” With the rest of the rotation watching, along with most of the Red Sox front office, Mookie Betts and a few other teammates, Rodriguez’ unveiling of the new pitch turned heads. For four seasons, Rodriguez has only teased the Red Sox with his potential while simultaneously disappointing with poorly timed injuries and no third pitch. “It was like, an in between slider-cutter,” Cora said. “Now it’s a real slider.” During his career, hitters have a .218 average against his signature changeup, and a .242 average off his four-seam fastball, which he throws as hard as 98 mph. But they’ve hit .277 with a repugnant .517 slugging percentage off his slider, a pitch once considered so ineffective Rodriguez stopped throwing it. Injuries haunted him against last year, but when he returned from the disabled list after missing six weeks, Rodriguez struck out 12 against the White Sox on his way to a 36-strikeout month in just 25 innings (though he allowed 15 runs in that span). “I think he showed a lot of people in baseball that this guy has the ability to go through teams, go through lineups a few times,” pitching coach Dana LeVangie said. In the postseason, it was more of the same, with Rodriguez dazzling for the majority of his World Series start against the Dodgers, only to give it all up with a three-run homer off the bat of Yasiel Puig (culminated by Rodriguez’ now-infamous glove throw). That pitch might have changed his career. “You can tell he’s had some drive this offseason,” Sale said. Added postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, “I feel like he’s taken it to a whole new level.” Though the other starters are being held back in camp after a long postseason, Rodriguez, who threw just 10 innings in October, is ahead of schedule. “For him to be as crisp and clean as he is now at the beginning of spring training, give him a little more time and he’s going to be even better,” Eovaldi said. “I like the fact that he locates his fastball. His slider and his fastball, when he locates his pitches like he has, and I feel like he’s been working the ball up in the zone as well. With him and his velocity, I feel like it’s going to get him a lot of quick outs.” Rodriguez is known for talking a lot, which prompts a lot of good-natured teasing in the locker room. But the veteran starters around him think his outgoing personality has helped him build relationships. “Besides giving him a hard time all the time, they want him to be great,” Cora said. “They see it. At one point in their careers, Sale and Price were that guy. They’re hard on him because they know how talented he is. Sometimes he gets caught up on who he wants to be. He wants to be Chris one day, and Rick (Porcello) the next day, and David (Price) the next outing. We want him to be Eduardo. Eduardo is a good big league pitcher. That changeup, we saw it in Game 4. When he has that combination of fastball up, changeup down, he’s lethal.” Rodriguez said he feels like the little brother of the starting rotation. “That’s the way they look at me, and I love it,” he said. “That way they just teach me all the time. I love the way they treat me. … I mean, I want to get to that point. I want to get to the point where I can win a Cy Young, like everybody wants to do one day.” While he’s the little brother of the starting rotation, he feels like more of a son to Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez. “I look at him as a father,” Rodriguez said. “Because when I was a little kid and I was with my father, he was teaching me every time. He was with me like Pedro right now. So now I’m 25 and he’s way older than me so I just go with him, follow him all the time and listen to whatever he says.”
19 Feb 19
HardballTalk

Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated posits that “free agency isn’t broken” because Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million contract on Tuesday. That is simplistic reasoning.

19 Feb 19
Sox Talk

Every pitcher and catcher, along with every coach and position player have now all reported to Fort Myers. The team had their first official full squad workout on Monday along with their annual organization meeting. So what does this all mean? It means we’re only getting closer and closer to Opening Day. As that day […]

19 Feb 19
Thiccpattie Takes

Baseball is back. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say those words. And god damn have I wanted to. The 2019 season has been one of the most hyped up seasons in recent memory for me and it’s for good reason.  The first, being none other, than Bryce Harper. Personally, I respect […]

19 Feb 19
High Velocity Sport

How Patrick Corbin won the winter https://es.pn/2TTC1TS Until Bryce Harper and Manny Machado find homes, it’s difficult to say which team won the offseason. Impossible, even. As for the player who won the winter, well that’s a no-brainer. When Patrick Corbin signed with the Washington Nationals back on Dec. 7 for $140 million over six […]