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Daily Dodger in review: Nathan Eovaldi, hurler no one saw coming

October 31, 2011 |  3:09 pm

NATHAN EOVALDI, 21, starting pitcher

Final 2011 stats: 1-2, 3.63 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, six strikeouts per nine innings, .230 opponent batting average in 34 2/3 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: He was the torpedo no one saw on the radar until suddenly he hit. An 11th-round draft pick in 2008, Eovaldi had gone a combined 4-6 with a 4.30 ERA in three minor-league stops in 2010.

He started last season at double-A Chattanooga, where he was really scheduled to spend the year. But when Rubby De La Rosa, who had been previously plucked from Chattanooga, was lost to elbow surgery, the Dodgers called up Eovaldi to join the rotation. He was 6-5 with a 3.62 ERA at Chattanooga.

In his six starts for the Dodgers, he went 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA. In five of them, he went at least five innings and allowed two runs or less. Because he's only 21, to play it safe they took him out of the rotation as a precautionary move.

The bad: Four vowels vs. three consonants. After nine days off following his last start, he struggled in four relief appearances (a 10.13 ERA).

What’s next: At the moment, he probably has one of the five spots in next season’s rotation. If the Dodgers do resign Hiroki Kuroda, they may add another established pitcher to the rotation and allow Eovaldi to spend another season in the minors.

The take: It’s always dangerous to get carried away by a small string of games by a young pitcher (see: John Ely), but the Dodgers certainly liked what they saw of Eovaldi during his six-game stretch as a starter.

He wasn’t hitting 100 mph on the radar and raising eyebrows like De La Rosa, but he still showed an impressive fastball and solid poise for a young right-hander fresh up from double-A.

The Dodgers have reason to be leery of starting the season with Eovaldi in the rotation, but neither will they be afraid to. He could no doubt benefit by developing his other pitches in the minors for one more season, which is no doubt the best-case scenario.

But when your team is bankrupt and ownership is in chaos, best-case scenarios have a way of melting away. Which is why you’d best hope that those six starts last season were a true indicator of what he can do over the course of a full season.

— Steve Dilbeck

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