Last Updated on October 17, 2023 at 6:13 pm by Amanda Cunha
New York Yankees fans have been vocal about their mixed feelings towards Jordan Montgomery‘s success with the Rangers in the ALCS, but there seems to be a curious silence surrounding another former Yankee, Nathan Eovaldi. The veteran right-handed pitcher took the mound for the Texas Rangers in Game 2 of the ALCS, delivering an impressive performance, limiting the Astros to just three runs and striking out nine over six strong innings.
Nathan Eovaldi’s journey
Nathan Eovaldi has consistently excelled in his postseason appearances, boasting a 2.29 ERA and a mere one walk over 19.2 innings in his three playoff starts. In the regular season, he went 12-5 with a 3.63 ERA in his first year with the Rangers, despite grappling with injuries. Yet, Yankees fans appear relatively indifferent to Eovaldi’s accomplishments, particularly when compared to their enthusiastic support for Jordan Montgomery.
Why Yankees fans may not share the hype?
This discrepancy may be attributed to the fact that most Yankees fans barely remember Nathan Eovaldi’s tenure in New York. Unlike Montgomery, who was a homegrown talent drafted by the Yankees, Eovaldi was acquired from the Miami Marlins in a trade in December 2014. He spent just two years in the Bronx, making his presence less enduring in the hearts of Yankees fans.
During his time with the Yankees, Eovaldi displayed promising statistics, notably going 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 2015, leading the American League in pitcher winning percentage, and holding a respectable 3.42 FIP. However, his journey took a turn when he suffered elbow trouble and missed the latter part of the 2015 season. The subsequent year saw Eovaldi’s performance regress to the mean before he required Tommy John surgery in August.
Nathan Eovaldi has since reinvented himself as a valuable front-end starter for the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, and now the Texas Rangers. He even secured a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2018, proving himself as a reliable postseason performer. Nonetheless, Yankees fans seem to reserve their emotional investment and support for their homegrown players, particularly Jordan Montgomery.
In retrospect, it appears that a significant factor contributing to this apparent disparity in fan sentiment is homegrown prospect bias. Jordan Montgomery’s journey from being a Yankees draft pick to his major league debut, subsequent Tommy John surgery, and successful comeback was closely observed by fans. Moreover, his recent improvement in fastball confidence after being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals has left Yankees fans yearning for his performances in pinstripes.
In contrast, Nathan Eovaldi was regarded as a project player in the eyes of Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman. He was acquired as a two-pitch pitcher with decent fastball velocity and a promising slider, requiring the development of secondary pitches to thrive. Under the tutelage of then-Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Eovaldi was taught to throw a splitter and changeup. However, this development was disrupted by Tommy John surgery, leading to the Yankees releasing him.
It was during his time with the Tampa Bay Rays that Eovaldi added a cutter to his pitching repertoire, and the Boston Red Sox played a pivotal role in enhancing his curveball.
The resulting Nathan Eovaldi is a complete pitcher, featuring a diverse arsenal of a fastball, splitter, cutter, and an occasional curveball, leaving behind the changeup he used in New York and the slider he had largely abandoned. This transformation reflects the journey of a player who joined the Yankees as a raw talent, left to refine his skills elsewhere, and emerged as a formidable pitcher. However, fans were not as emotionally invested in Eovaldi’s journey compared to their attachment to homegrown talents.
Hence, while Yankees fans should, in principle, celebrate Nathan Eovaldi’s success, it is understandable why they may not express the same regret over his departure as they do for other players. His tenure in the Bronx was relatively brief and, in hindsight, unremarkable. Few anticipated Eovaldi becoming a lifelong Yankee. Now, as the Rangers advance in the ALCS with contributions from Eovaldi and Montgomery, Yankees fans find themselves as spectators, reflecting on the paths these former players have taken since leaving the Bronx. At the age of 33, Nathan Eovaldi is on the brink of his second World Series appearance, a journey that may culminate in another championship ring. Whether Yankees fans join in celebrating his success remains to be seen.
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