Although the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Boston Red Sox in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series early Saturday morning, one of the game’s most memorable performances belonged to Nathan Eovaldi, the pitcher who yielded the walk-off home run to Max Muncy in the 18th inning. It was Eovaldi, after all, who made his third relief appearance of the series — that despite being scheduled to start Game 4 — and who held the Dodgers to two runs (one earned) across six innings on 97 pitches. Essentially, he threw a hidden quality start.
That fact hasn’t been lost on Eovaldi’s teammates.
One of them, Game 3 starter Rick Porcello, became emotional after the game when discussing Eovaldi’s performance. Here’s more, courtesy of NESN:
“I actually, after the game was over I started crying because that was — I mean, he’s grinding. Every pitch. He literally gave everything he had on every single pitch and it was special. It was a lot of fun to watch. That’s the epitome of reaching down deep and I don’t know. I’m really proud of him.”
It’s always neat to see teammates voice public appreciation of one another’s performance. And kudos to Porcello for being open with how much Eovaldi’s night meant to him.
The flip side is that Eovaldi’s outing is likely to produce more complex feelings in others who contemplate his future. He’s put the team’s interests first throughout the postseason, and conventional wisdom holds that he should be rewarded for his selflessness. Yet Eovaldi is an impending free agent, and it’s easy to envision teams leveraging his October workload and pair of Tommy John surgeries against him in future negotiations as a means of driving down his salary.
You hope not — you’d rather not engender an environment where players in similar situations are forced to reckon with their long-term well-being before taking one for the team — but baseball has proved time and again it’s a business first and foremost. None of this changes how special Eovaldi’s night was — not to him or his teammates. It may, however, come to serve as a reminder that the attributes teams want from their players during games are not always the same ones they reward financially.
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