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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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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