Spring Training Preview 2/28: Pitchers to Watch

Jack Flaherty (vs. WAS) and Zac Gallen (@ COL) take the mound on Sunday, but you don’t need to learn anything about those two aces. Instead, let’s take a look at a pair of arms worth monitoring as Spring Training begins this weekend.

NATHAN EOVALDI @ MINNESOTA TWINS
February NFBC ADP: 222.85

Eovaldi currently headlines the Red Sox rotation, though you wouldn’t know it by his ADP in the 220s. He turned heads during Spring Training last year, then kept the mojo going throughout the sprint season. He managed 48.1 innings en route to a 3.72 ERA (3.32 xFIP), 26.1% K-rate, and minuscule 3.5% walk rate (a 52:7 K:BB ratio). I love taking guys who can bring the heat, and there’s nothing wrong with Eovaldi’s average fastball velocity, as he checked in at 97.4 MPH in 2020 (right in line with his three previous seasons). He also boasts a full arsenal of four pitches, and he had a lot of success with two secondary offerings in his curveball and splitter in 2020. There’s always innings/injury risk here, but we are coming off of a short season and expecting many pitchers to throw fewer innings than normal. This is a perfect time to roster a guy like Eovaldi, who has top 30 starter upside when healthy. Eovaldi himself is on the record as saying that last year’s decreased workload could aid him in staying healthy for 2021. I’m super into drafting him at ADP right now given that he’s entering the season at 100% health. I will be monitoring all of his performances this spring.

Kyle Wright @ Tampa Bay Rays
February NFBC ADP: 491.50

Wright will do battle with Bryse Wilson this spring for the No. 5 spot in Atlanta’s rotation given the uncertainty around Mike Soroka (Achilles surgery). I’m interested to see how Wright performs, as his 6.22 ERA through 12 career MLB starts leaves much to be desired. He did finish 2020 on a high note, however. Wright had three strong turns to finish the regular season, and then fired six scoreless innings against the Marlins in Game 3 of last year’s National League Division Series. He later fell apart against the Dodgers in the NLCS, but I still think he has the inside track for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. At this point I view him as a streaming option, but of course performance or injuries could change his outlook. The former No. 5 overall pick in 2017 is still one of Atlanta’s most heralded young hurlers, and at just 25 years old it’s too early to give up on him. His weakness at the big league level has been his command, so let’s pay attention to how well he handles his first two innings of 2021 come Sunday.

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