TAMPA, Fla. — Nathan Eovaldi went 14-3 in his first season with the Yankees, and he hopes the addition of a reliable splitter can help him match that in 2016, if not improve upon it.
“Toward the end of the season last year, I really developed pretty good control for my split,” the 26-year-old righthander said before a Friday morning workout at spring training at Steinbrenner Field. “This offseason, it’s been great. I’m going to be using that more, of course, and the fastball, too. Working on the curveball a little bit more as well.”
Eovaldi, whose fastball can hit 100 mph, didn’t use his splitter at all in four seasons in the National League with the Dodgers and Marlins, relying more on his changeup until Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez helped him add the splitter to his repertoire. The confidence to use it in games came last year.
Eovaldi, who had a 4.20 ERA and benefited from unusually good run support last season, would like to go deeper in games more often in 2016. He went beyond six innings only nine times in 27 starts last season, and beyond seven innings only three times. Eovaldi understands, however, that an even stronger bullpen with the addition of closer Aroldis Chapman will make it harder for starters to stay on for longer outings.
“I still want to go as deep as I can into ballgames, but definitely, you get to that sixth inning and you definitely feel like you’ve got a really good shot at winning the ballgame,” he said.
Eovaldi said he has adjusted to pitching in the American League and is familiar with the challenge of facing a lineup with a designated hitter instead of having the comfort of facing a pitcher every few innings in his National League days.
“You definitely have a tougher lineup . . . If anything, it keeps you more focused,” he said. “If you get down to the bottom of the lineup and you know you’ve got the pitcher, you can attack him or work on your off-speed pitches to get them back on point. In the American League, you really can’t do that.”