According to Fan Graphs, Miami Marlins pitcher Nathan Eovaldi recorded an average pitch speed of 96.2 mph in 2013, which was the hardest in baseball by starting pitchers who threw over 100 innings.
He comes into this season equipped with a slider and curveball that is going to make the 24-year-old a very powerful pitcher.
"[Eovaldi's] curveball is not as hard as his slider but it's a good pitch to throw early in the count for a get-me-over," Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said, "and that slider is such a great pitch. I think if he gets a little more depth to it, we'll get a lot of swings and misses."
Eovaldi started Tuesday's game against the Colorado Rockies by attacking the hitters with flaming fastballs averaging at 98 mph while sneaking in a slider that serves as the finishing move. He used the slider to strike out Carlos Gonzalez swinging in the first inning and retired Troy Tulowitzki on a ground ball to third base in the second inning. The rest of the opposition was mowed down by his fastball artillery in the first three innings.
"A slider for me is gonna be something that I want the guy to swing at," Saltalamacchia said. "I want him to either swing and miss or swing and hit it off the end of the bat, but nothing over the plate. The curveball is something that I want him to throw over the plate for either a take -- cause they're sitting on a fastball -- or if a guy wants to swing, he swings and he's out in front."
Eovaldi didn't throw a curveball until the fourth inning when the Marlins led by two runs. As planned and explained by Saltalamacchia, he threw it each time as an 0-0 pitch. But he failed to throw it for a strike and the Rockies tied the game.
“I kind of fell apart in that fourth inning,” Eovaldi said.
Reed Johnson pinch-hit for Eovaldi in the sixth inning and started a two-run rally to retake the lead and put him in position for the win. Eovaldi received four runs of support from this new Marlins lineup after spending a career in the Majors with an average of 2.83 runs of support.
Finally, some run support for Eovaldi!
"We talked about the run support thing last year," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "Sometimes that happens with some guys. I don't know if you can figure out why some guys get runs and some guys don't. Last year, he didn't get a ton of them. It was nice to go out there and keep battling. We had some great at-bats."
"This is a completely different team," said Eovaldi on his 2-0 Marlins. "We added the key guys we needed to add. In Spring Training, it was the same thing. We had great games in Spring Training and carried it over into the season."