Wednesday newsletter time: Often overpowering, a crafty Nathan Eovaldi lifts Rangers
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — Nathan Eovaldi didn’t have the best zip on his fastball Tuesday night, Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said, so the right-hander had to navigate his way thought the Tampa Bay lineup.
The heater wasn’t a bad pitch, but it wasn’t in the mid- to upper-90s as it had been most of the season
Fortunately for Eovaldi, he has four off-speed pitches, so at worst he’s always going to have two pitches he can lean on if the others aren’t working.
Eovaldi tossed six scoreless innings, and Corey Seager hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to give the Rangers just enough cushion as they won their fifth straight game coming out of the All-Star break, 5-3.
“He did such a great job of pitching,” Bochy said. “The great ones know how to pitch without that good fastball they normally have.”
It’s an acquired skill. Eovaldi said that he would outthink himself as a younger pitcher when he was required to pitch. He’s in his 12th season and on his sixth team, so he’s been around and seen some things.
The keys are to keep things simple and to make adjustments.
“Now, it’s like, just try to pitch smart,” Eovaldi said. “It’s just going out there and making sure I locate that off-speed pitch or that fastball to get a quick inning.”
Right-handers Jose Leclerc and Grant Anderson leaked a little in the seventh and eighth innings, though Anderson induced a key double-play grounder to end the seventh. Will Smith had an easy ninth inning for the save.
Aroldis Chapman had warmed in the seventh before Seager’s homer turned a 2-1 game into a four-run lead.
The Rangers have added 2 1/2 games to their lead in the American League West since the All-Star break. The margin is now 4 1/2 games over the Astros, who lost Tuesday at Colorado.
The question that many Rangers fans want answered now that No. 4 overall pick Wyatt Langford has signed is where he will head for his first assignment after onboarding in Arizona.
He’s very likely going to make his pro debut in the Arizona Complex League. That’s not automatic, but he’s going to be in Arizona for onboarding with the other draft picks, so he might as well play a couple games there.
After that, expect the Rangers to be conservative with where they second the outfielder.
My guess is Low A Down East, as was articulated here. High A Hickory isn’t out of the question, but Double A Frisco might be.
The Rangers have watched Jack Leiter struggle after going from Vanderbilt of the Southeast Conference straight to Frisco. Double A ball is more difficult than the SEC, where Langford also played with Florida. Even High A had given Kumar Rocker, also from Vanderbilt, a few challenging moments earlier this season before his elbow gave out.
It probably won’t be until early August before Langford is sent out.
My Monday Grid
I forgot to include this in the Tuesday newsletter after promising Monday that I would.
The Rangers were featured Monday in the Immaculate Grid, the baseball puzzle game that’s all the rage and was recently acquired by/partnered with Baseball Reference.
There were three very obvious answers for Rangers who have also played with the Astros (Nolan Ryan), the Dodgers (Corey Seager) and won a Gold Glove (Ivan Rodriguez). Not all three, mind you, but one for each category.
I tried to find the scarcest possible answers. I think I did well.
Rafael Montero was a very good reliever for the Rangers, who flipped him to Seattle for minor-leaguers Jose Corniell and Andres Mesa. Corniell has been one of the best pitchers this season in the Rangers’ system.
Things didn’t work out for Montero in Seattle, which traded him to the Astros in 2021.
Josh Sborz, a waiver claim from the Dodgers, is on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis after working his way into the back end of the Rangers’ bullpen.
Michael Young, of course, is a Rangers Hall of Famer who won the Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008. He would have also fit the Rangers-Dodgers square.
Anyhoo, this a fun game that takes up too much of my day. Monday was a good day, by the way, as I don’t go 9 for 9 very often. I went 7 for 9 on Tuesday.
Totally acceptable under these weather conditions.
What is he doing..😅 pic.twitter.com/3GhkNb57TD
— 𝕐o̴g̴ (@Yoda4ever) July 18, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com