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Eovaldi returns with mixed results against Rays

@IanMBrowne
July 23, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- For probably every outing he makes for the rest of the season, Nathan Eovaldi will be judged almost exclusively on results. But when the flame-throwing righty took the mound for the Red Sox for the first time in over three months during Monday night’s 9-4 loss at

ST. PETERSBURG -- For probably every outing he makes for the rest of the season, Nathan Eovaldi will be judged almost exclusively on results.

But when the flame-throwing righty took the mound for the Red Sox for the first time in over three months during Monday night’s 9-4 loss at Tropicana Field, it was time to shake off the rust and get re-acclimated.

The pitching line (2/3 of an inning, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 K’s) can thankfully be considered secondary due to the fact Eovaldi came on in the eighth inning with an eight-run lead.

“It felt really good to be back out there, and just competing with all the guys,” said Eovaldi. “I felt fine out there. I just have to do a better job locating my secondary pitches. Everything was mostly middle, they were trying to get hits and were able to do so.”

Eovaldi, a postseason hero for the Red Sox last year as a rover (starter and reliever), was supposed to be a cornerstone in the rotation this season. But plans changed when he had surgery in April to repair loose bodies in his elbow and then had a setback of biceps tendinitis that prolonged his return from the initial injury.

By bringing back Eovaldi as a reliever, the Red Sox could accelerate his timetable while also giving the team’s spotty bullpen a high-impact arm.

It will be interesting to see how much Eovaldi’s presence can help the bullpen the rest of the way.

Monday was a necessary first step. Most of his appearances will likely be with the game on the line, though manager Alex Cora has yet to officially commit to him as a closer. Eovaldi’s fastball had plenty of life, as he topped out at 99.2 mph and averaged 97.8.

“Just got his feet wet as a reliever,” said Cora. “The bouncing breaking ball and the splits, if you ask Christian [Vázquez], he should’ve blocked those pitches. He got his feet wet and we’ll use him the next time. The stuff, you saw it. Made some good pitches. Didn’t get a call on the cutter to [Austin] Meadows. That was a swing. Then he got hit on the fastball. Besides that, you saw his stuff. We’re fine with it.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.