Posted on April 23, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
Two days after putting him on the Injured List, the Boston Red Sox learned that starter Nathan Eovaldi will be on the shelf a little longer than 10 days. Multiple sources are reporting that Eovaldi will undergo surgery Tuesday morning to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. He’s expected to miss at least four to six weeks, likely keeping him on the IL until June.
Eovaldi was placed on the DL Saturday after an MRI revealed two loose bodies in his elbow. After a follow-up appointment on Monday, Eovaldi decided to go ahead with the surgery. He had the same procedure in March 2018 when he was with the Rays. On that occasion, Eovaldi declined a cortisone shot in favor of going under the knife. That season, it was two months until he was ready to return. However, Eovaldi expects a faster return this time around because he was also working his way back from Tommy John surgery back in 2018.
“I went right into the surgery [in 2018], and it worked out really well for me,” Eovaldi explained Saturday. “It’s one of those things where we’re at in the year, too. It’s so early in the season, we have a lot of time left, we don’t want anything to get worse toward the end of the season. I felt like the procedure went really smoothly last year and the recovery was fast. It’s two weeks until you have your range of motion back.”
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Much like the rest of Boston’s rotation, Eovaldi has started the 2019 campaign slowly. Through his first four starts, he has an ERA of 6.00 and is yet to get a decision. In his last time out, Eovaldi showed improvement, throwing six shutout innings against the Yankees, his former club. It was by far his best performance of the season. But Eovaldi will now have to start from scratch after undergoing surgery and starting from scratch.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has said that Hector Velazquez will take Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation, at least for now. The 30-year-old righty has made two starts and four relief appearances for the Red Sox this year. He’s only lasted three innings in each of his starts, so he’s not fully stretched out. However, he has registered a 2.84 ERA over his first 12.2 innings of the season. Velazquez had plenty of success as Boston’s swingman, and the Red Sox are hopeing for similar results this year.
While Eovaldi has struggled early in the year, the Red Sox will be eager to get him back in the rotation. The trio of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Rick Porcello have all been dreadful early in the year. All three have an ERA over 7.00 and have a combined record of 1-9. Obviously, they need all three to turn things around as quickly as possible. But having Eovaldi back would certainly help as well, especially after his last outing.
On the other hand, the Red Sox will want to be careful with Eovaldi after signing him to a four-year, $68 million contract over the winter. As Eovaldi pointed out himself, there’s plenty of time left in the season. If he can come back from the surgery healthy, Eovaldi can be an impact player for the Red Sox the second half of the season. However, with Boston struggling in April and still under .500, losing Eovaldi for the short-term will make it more difficult for the Red Sox to get things turned around.