JOHN GRANATO

Soon-to-be free agent Eovaldi could be a great fit for the Astros

Nathan Eovaldi has similar numbers to Charlie Morton when Morton became an Astro. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

ESPN baseball expert Buster Olney was on our show Tuesday morning and dropped a bomb on us. He said that Nathan Eovaldi would be a perfect fit for the Astros. He’ll cost somewhere in the $80 million range over 4 or 5 years.

Rarely does information like that come out of nowhere.

While Olney can’t reveal it, it’s a good bet that he called or ran into Eovaldi’s agent during the playoffs and he planted that bug in Olney’s ear. It’s what agents do. Olney can’t reveal it because the agent wouldn’t want the Red Sox to know he’s out there shopping Eovaldi while he should be thinking about winning a World Series.

This week leading up to the series Eovaldi was asked if his people had spoken to the Red Sox about resigning with the team. He said there had been no such talks. That will probably change as soon as the series is over.

He has been impressive since he got to Boston. He has a 3.33 ERA with 48 strikeouts and just 12 walks. He also looked great here in Houston throwing 7⅓, giving up just 2 runs, striking out 5 and walking 2 while winning a pivotal Game 3.

That he got that start over Rick Porcello, who won a Cy Young for the Sox just a couple of years ago tells you what Alex Cora must think of him. Eovaldi hasn’t been with the Sox for three months.

But over his career he hasn’t been all that impressive. He is nine games under .500 with a slightly better than average ERA of 4.16. He’s got a live fastball but his strikeouts to walks is just under 2½ to 1. Not all that dominating for a guy who can hit 100 on the gun.

He is trending well though and picking up valuable postseason experience plus guys who come to the Astros tend to get better under the tutelage of pitching coach Brent Strom. Case in point Charlie Morton. Check out this comparison of Morton when he signed here 2 years ago and Eovaldi today.

                     Eovaldi    Morton (2 yrs ago)

Age                   28            32

Games             156         162

W-L                 44-53     46-71

ERA                 4.16        4.54

Innings             850        893

Strikeouts         640       630

Hits                   887        950

Walks               259         337

WHIP              1.348   1.440

HR                     80           71

Pretty close numbers but by almost every measure Eovaldi is a little bit better that CFM was when the Astros signed him and by every measure CFM is better today than he was then. His record, ERA, and K’s to W’s are all better because of Brent Strom. You’d have to think that Eovaldi would be better here. Everyone else has been. Why wouldn’t he be?

Sure would be nice to have a younger, harder throwing Charlie Morton in the rotation next year. We also know that the big stage isn’t too big for him. We saw that with our own eyes.

The question is do you spend that kind of money on a guy who still has something to prove or hope that you can develop your own guys on the cheap? Josh James looks like he’s the real deal. He can hump it up at over 100 as well. He gave up some crucial runs but it was just his first go around and you’ve got him locked up for a couple of years for next to nothing.  

Forrest Whitley hasn’t even started his major league clock yet. He’s said to be throwing well and could be in the mix next spring. Lance McCullers Jr. is back next year as is Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. If you can sign CFM for a couple more years at a reasonable price that would be tough to pass up.

Of course the big decision is what to do about Dallas Keuchel. He will get some life changing offers. Best bet is that he’s pitching somewhere else next year. There are too many guys to pay here to tie up big money longterm on him.

With just one more year of Verlander, Eovaldi might be the right fit. When JV leaves Gerrit Cole becomes your ace. Eovaldi’s the No. 3 starter on a World Series team right now. He could certainly move up to a No. 2 with Brent Strom’s help. Whitley, James and LMJ all have at least number 2 stuff as well.

If Buster Olney wasn’t just throwing sand into the wind and maybe has some insight into this, it sounds pretty exciting to me. If there’s a bidding war with another team you’d think Eovaldi would sign here if the money’s close.  He’s from Alvin. He’ll never be the pride of Alvin like No. 34 but he’ll move closer to the legendary Nolan Ryan in the hearts of everyone around here if he helps us all put on another one of those fancy rings.

 

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The Astros play Game 1 of the ALDS Tuesday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

With a nod to Charles Dickens, October is the best of times (Astros) and the worst of times (Texans and Rockets) for Houston sports fans. At least this October.

October is the one month when all three of Houston’s major sports teams are guaranteed to be in full swing at the same time. It’s possible, if the Astros make the World Series that November will have all three teams in action, too. But let’s not jinx things.

The Astros start their playoff run Tuesday on TBS. Since the Yankees also play that day, also on TBS, we can assume the Astros will get the daytime slot, the Yankees in prime time. Now before Astros fans start screaming east coast bias, it really only applies to TV. Fun fact: no New York Met has ever won an MVP Award, and only one Yankee has won it in the past 37 years – Alex Rodriguez in 2005 and 2007. How’d that work out for him? Most important, a New York team has won the World Series only once in the past two decades – the Yankees in 2009.

The Astros could play as many as 15 more games in October, five in the Division Series, seven in the League Championship Series and three in the World Series before the calendar flips to November.

Meanwhile, the Texans plod on with three more games in October, and the Rockets have 11.

The winless Texans are at home against the Titans at NRG Stadium, on the road against the Jaguars and Raiders.

The Rockets, coming off the worst record in the NBA last season, have three games at home at Toyota Center and eight on the road.

This presents a problem of abundance, an embarrassment of riches, for Houston sports junkies. Who are you going to watch on TV? Which team will you pay to watch in person? Who are you rooting for the most? Whose jersey will you buy?

David Puddy is right, you “gotta support the team,” but who will own Houston this month?

What to do? If it’s true that nothing succeeds like success, and everybody loves a winner – it’s an obvious choice.

The Astros.

The Astros just completed their regular season with 106 wins, second most in franchise history, another American League West title, the best record in the American League and will have home field advantage throughout the AL playoffs. Even though fans had high hopes for the Astros entering 2022, the team smashed everybody’s expectations. Vegas put the Astros over/under wins at 92 games. The Astros seemingly flew by that number during spring training.

They are the first team in American League history to win 100 games in four of their last five full seasons. Not even Babe Ruth’s Yankees of the 1920s and 1930s did that. This core of Astros has won five of the last six American League West titles. They’ve played in three of the last five World Series. This is a dynasty right before our eyes. We’re witness to greatness. How ‘bout them Astros?

What a season it was. Who could have figured that 39-year-old Justin Verlander, out of action for two seasons after Tommy John surgery, would have a career year, a ridiculously skinny earned run average and the overwhelming pick for the Cy Young Award? Jose Altuve would return to a .300 batting average, Cristian Javier would lead the team in strikeouts, Yordan Alvarez would finish No. 2 between Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in OPS, and rookie Jeremy Pena would slug 22 home runs, the same number as Carlos Correa? Remember last offseason and cries of “pay the man!” Some of a team’s best deals are the ones they don’t make.

Strap yourself in for an October to remember. The storylines are endless. There’s bad blood between the Astros and the Yankees, between the Astros and Dodgers, between the Astros and boo birds in every stadium not named Minute Maid Park.

It’s going to be fun.

As for the Texans, Deshaun Watson returns to action Nov. 4 against the Texans here at NRG Stadium. And we’ll catch up with the Rockets when the NBA season starts for real on Christmas Day. But until then … play ball!

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