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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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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