Sox by the Numbers: Can Nathan Eovaldi Be Rick Porcello For Two Months?

By trade deadline standards, the Nathan Eovaldi for Jalen Beeks deal is a plain bagel with butter. Nothing out of the ordinary. A team contending for a title gave up a prospect with many years left of team control for a veteran rental. But that doesn’t mean the deal doesn’t have considerable upside for the Red Sox. If Eovaldi can stay healthy and pitch the way he has for much of this season, it’s a good deal for Boston. Because when healthy, Nathan Eovaldi is basically Rick Porcello.

When healthy is a huge caveat with Eovaldi, who has never thrown 200 innings in a single season and has undergone Tommy John surgery twice. Yet compare Eovaldi’s rate statistics to Porcello’s since 2011, the year Eovaldi came into the league and you’ll see some striking similarities:

There are certainly differences between the two hurlers. Eovaldi has always been a harder thrower and he works in the strike zone more than basically anyone else in baseball. This year, out of 143 starting pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings, Eovaldi is first in percentage of pitches thrown in the strike zone (zone percentage) and overall swing percentage. That’s allowed him to be efficient: he throws among the fewest pitches per inning in the league (15.6 pitches per inning, 26 out of 135 pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched).

And of course, durability matters a huge amount, which is why Porcello has been a much more valuable pitcher over the years (15.5 WAR to Eovaldi’s 8.8 since 2011). But if Eovaldi can stay on the mound and remain the pitcher he’s been so far this year, Boston will have one of the more effective back-of-the-rotation starters in the league and a potential plus arm out of the bullpen in the playoffs if they opt to go that route. The Red Sox don’t need Nathan Eovaldi to stay healthy for the next two years, only the next two months.