Tommy Milone (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Boston Red Sox welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Fenway Park for the season opener on Friday night. If you had Tommy Milone as the Opening Day starter for the Orioles, then job well done, because John Means has been scratched and Milone gets the starting nod. Milone wasn’t even on the Orioles starting roster during spring training. He signed a minor league deal shortly after camp got underway. The Orioles needed another arm for depth in the minors and landed on the veteran.
In other words, Milone has gone from a 33-year-old minor leaguer a few months ago, to being inserted as the Opening Day starter for the Orioles. This tells us a couple of things. First, when you’re a team relying on Tommy Milone as your Opening Day starter, there are likely major concerns for the pitching staff. Milone as the starter for Game 1 in the regular season has to be the worst-case scenario.
For some teams that were bad last season, the shortened season gives them a window to get hot and go to the postseason. However, as far as the Orioles are concerned, I don’t believe it matters if there were 30 games or 250 games this season, the O’s likely aren’t going anywhere with the shape that their starting rotation is in. Maybe they surprise us all, but Milone getting the nod as the Opening Day starter doesn’t evoke much confidence.
The Red Sox don’t have the best depth in their starting rotation either. Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale are both out with injuries, so we have to go to the Red Sox No. 3 option in the rotation on Opening Day. Rodriguez is on the 10-day IL and Sale the 60-day IL, so they will have to survive with Nathan Eovaldi as their No. 1 pitcher for the near future. Fortunately, they have a better offense to back them up. That said, don’t expect a typical Red Sox team in Boston this year. Head below for our free Baltimore Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox pick for July 24, 2020 in MLB.
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Mookie Betts is of course gone in Boston, as he traded and then recently signed a mammoth $365 million 12-year deal. The Red Sox still have some pop in their lineup, though. I don’t think their offense is going to fall off a cliff. J.D. Martinez, who will be hitting 2nd in the lineup, is still in Boston, along with the talented Xander Bogaerts. I find it hard to believe that the Red Sox are going to be serious contenders, but their cupboard isn’t completely empty. They should be able to exploit Tommy Milone on Friday at Fenway at least. From there, an ugly Baltimore bullpen awaits for the Red Sox.
Martinez and Bogaerts have both had success against Milone in the past. Bogaerts is hitting .500 in 12 at-bats, while J.D. is hitting .333 with a .400 OBP and 2 home runs in 18 at-bats. Martinez has racked up 8 RBI’s against Milone in his career. Milone is better suited for the back of a rotation. He posted an ERA Of 4.76 and 1.12 WHIP in 2019.
He had issues keeping the ball in the park, with his velocity reducing considerably. In his previous four performances, Milone has notched an ERA of 5.71, 7.63, 5.81, and 4.76. Is that really the guy who you want as your No. 1 starter? Absolutely not, but the O’s are going to roll the dice with Milone at Fenway on Friday night.
Nathan Eovaldi had one of his best seasons in 2018. He posted an ERA of 3.81 and 1.13 WHIP. Eovaldi was acquired in a trade to bolster their rotation for a postseason push. He was traded from the Yankees where he had a 4.26 ERA. Eovaldi was able to improve for a 3.33 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 11 starts with the Red Sox. It wasn’t a bad move for the Red Sox to bring over Eovaldi for cheap. His most recent season in 2019 didn’t go well, though.
Eovaldi regressed with an ERA of 5.99 and 1.58 WHIP last year. After yielded just 3 home runs in 54 innings the year before, Eovaldi was tagged with 16 home runs in 67.2 innings of work in 2019. It’s hard to see Milone or Eovaldi being in a groove after such a lengthy layoff of playing meaningful baseball. There should be plenty of runs up on the board on Friday night at historic Fenway Park.