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Astros could help Nate Eovaldi to become even better



After a pair of Tommy John surgeries, several trades and a full year of baseball, Nathan Eovaldi as well as he always helped the Red Sox win the World Series

But is there potential for it to improve again?

After a pair of Tommy John surgeries, several trades and a full year of baseball, Nathan Eovaldi as well as he always helped the Red Sox win the World Series

But is there potential for it to improve again?

Jon Morosi, of MLB.com, reported Tuesday that the Astros showed "continued interest" in Eovaldi's signature. The right – hander could play in front of his local hero, Nolan Ryan, at Minute Maid Park, instantly join another World Series contender and reinforce an already stacked spin with a pair of ace. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Tweet @jonmorosi: #Astros shows continued interest in free agent Nathan Eovaldi, sources said. He is the second best pitcher of all time in Alvin, Texas. And if Eovaldi signs with Houston, the No. 1 on this list will see him play the seat behind the plate. . . @MLBNetwork @MLB

It is this last advantage that suggests the most exciting possibility of all: Eovaldi seems to be the next perfect project for Houston's well-known analysis and coaching staff. In two successive seasons, the Astros have taken two branded stars at Verlander and Cole (not to mention others like Charlie Morton and Brad Peacock) and helped them become better launchers by presenting data and tweaking their mechanics. Here's what Cole – who has gone from being a stuck in neutral in Pittsburgh to a Cy Young Award nominee in Houston – said Marly Rivera of ESPN Last June about the Astros staff:

"They've always put me in a better place, which has given me the physical ability to put into practice what I've learned here in such a short time. to four, to run more at sewing at four. "

The four-seam fastball is the main connection between Cole and Eovaldi. Like Cole, Eovaldi has a four high-octane designer; at 97.1 mph, Statcast ™, it was the second fastest on average among 113 participants who pitched at least 500 of those shots last year (Cole scored right behind him). But like Mike Petriello of MLB.com noted Several years ago, Eovaldi 's four seams did not produce the kind of spin that spawned the number of puffs that one could expect from a not so fast. In fact, Eovaldi's heating included basic parameters very similar to those of Cole in Pittsburgh.

The similarities of Cole and Eovaldi with its four seams

Cole, 2017 (PIT): 95.9 mph / 2,164 rpm / rate of change 19.8% *
Eovaldi, 2018 (TB / BOS): 97.1 mph / 2135 rpm / transfer rate of 24.3%
* Whiff rate = Misses / Total swings

As a reminder, Major League pitchers had an average rotation rate of 2,263 rpm on fast four-sided balls in 2018, and a rate of 20 to 50% on this type of terrain. Four seams with rotation speeds over 2300 to 2400 rpm tend to cause more puffs and popups. Once he joined the Astros, Cole not only started throwing his four-sided fastball faster, but put both seams in the rear lights; he also has saw his four-seam rotation speed jump about as much as all launchers have seen since the launch of Statcast ™ in 2015. Cole has entrusted Astros and Verlander, in many interviews, to have helped to change the positioning of his hand and his axis of rotation on this ground, while readjusting his state of mind to attack the top of the strike zone.

"He discovered that he had a good four-sided jump and that he did not really know how to use it," Verlander said. said David Adler of MLB.com Cole's adjustments last year. "[In Spring Training] we played the ball and I pointed out those who were good and those who were bad. And they were basically the opposite of what he thought. "

Cole added, "It seems to me that I'm shooting the ball. [Verlander]It's like, "You really stay behind the ball and get a better spin. In fact, he does what you want. This is not going away, it is jumping. I took this path and moved it to my places. Trying to continue this type of action was a great day for me. "

Cole's four seams have gone from a slightly disappointing tone, given his velocity, to one of the best baseballs in 2018. The 250 strokes miss the right on all four seams ranked third behind Verlander and Max Scherzer, and the .185 average he allowed on the field was also The third best MLB brand (at least 200 bats). In addition to throwing more curves and sliders, Cole's ancestry was due in large part to his four-sided spinning jump (an average of 2379 revolutions per minute in 18, 12th best among qualified entrants).

Video: CLE @ HOU Gm2: Statcast ™ analyzes Cole's attack

So, could Eovaldi see the same kind of improvements under the umbrella of the Astros? It should be noted that Cole's transformation was rare; not everyone can simply add effects to their tone, because it is primarily an inherent skill, as opposed to an acquired skill. But if a team could help Eovaldi to improve his heater, it would be the Astros, who, like Eno Sarris from Athletic was found recently, have helped a handful of pitchers gain small spin gains in recent seasons.

And here is the most encouraging sign for the Astros: We have already seen Eovaldi reveal his potential for rapid turnover. Statcast ™ has followed a number of four Eovaldi seamstresses with rotational speeds of over 2,400 rpm since 2015, including the "18 Series". Some simple mechanical adjustments could possibly help to unlock these lands in a more consistent way.

Rotation is not the only key to success for attacking league hitters. Eovaldi, for example, allowed an average of 0.280 on the four seamers at over 2300 rpm in 2015-16 before undergoing his second surgery at Tommy John. However, he was throwing the majority of these top spinners down to the batting knees and not at the top of the strike zone, where these launches are the most effective. Based on their history with other pitchers, this is a change that you can bet the Astros would suggest if Eovaldi signed.

It's the cooking season, which means we make some assumptions here, but with Dallas Keuchel and Morton, both free agents currently, it seems likely that they will go out and get an elite arm. That said, the Astros have not signed Eovaldi yet and we can not forget his injuries. A pair of Tommy John surgeries means that Eovaldi's career could be degraded on any terrain, and he just worked in overtime to help give the Red Sox a World Series title. Perhaps the Astros would completely avoid mechanical changes if they thought that the right elbow would be subject to additional constraints. Suntil, Eovaldi already do so many steps forward As a pitcher last season, it's tempting to imagine that it's getting even better. His cutter became a major weaponand remember: it was already doing this at the Dodgers Justin Turner during his heroic appearance of the relief of the World Series 3 in the fastball that he currently owns:

Video: WS2018 Gm3: Supporters of Eovaldi, Turner, finish the 12th inning

Eovaldi is bound to his potential since the Dodgers gave him a $ 250,000 signing bonus on high school 10 years ago. Perhaps the interest of the Astros in the rumor indicates that they are confident that they can help unlock this next level in 2019.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.


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