By Barry Millman
Nathan Eovaldi takes the mound against the Angels tonight, and regardless how Yankee fans may feel about the work-in-progress that is Big Nate, here's nine reasons why they should be looking forward to it:
1) At 4-1, Eovaldi is second only to Michael Pineda among the team's starters in wins and leads the team's rotation in winning percentage.
2) The team has won six of the last eight games he's started.
3) He's allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his 10 starts.
4) At 5.60 runs of support per start, the Yankee bats wake up and come through for him better than all but five other starters in the AL and four in the NL. (A just reward for MLB's leading victim of low run support since 2011.)
5) He's pitching on five days rest. He's 3-0 and has a 1.74 ERA in three starts this season when pitching on five
6) Since his second start of the season on April 15th, he's followed every appearance in which he failed to reach the sixth inning with one that made it into the seventh or beyond.
7) Per Fangraphs, his fastball is averaging 95.7 mph this year, the second highest
velocity in MLB among pitchers with a minimum 50 IP. Only Joe Kelly's at 95.9 mph is higher.
8) Per MLB.com analyst Mike Petriello, Eovaldi's splitter is gradually becoming a unique and useful third weapon for him that hitters have had difficulty squaring up and Nate said this week he's going to be throwing it more often.
9) While Eovaldi got shelled by these Angels in an abbreviated outing last year playing for the anemic Marlins, all the hits he yielded were singles and more than half were of the airborne variety, befitting his groundball/flyball ratio of 0.87 at the time. This season he's become a virtually neutral pitcher with an 0.99 G/F ratio, meaning roughly 50% of the balls hit off him now are as likely to kill worms as mosquitoes -- and that ratio's been improving.
You can email Barry Millman at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @nyyankeefanfore.