Nathan Eovaldi has been nothing short of stellar since being traded to the Boston Red Sox, and he only holds himself partially responsible for that success.
That’s because he is giving quite a bit of credit to his catcher, Sandy Leon.
In two starts since being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays, the 28-year-old right-hander is 2-0, holding opponents scoreless over 15 innings of work while striking out a nine. So while he has dazzled, he feels part of it goes back to the day he first put on a Boston uniform.
When Eovaldi went to throw his first bullpen, Leon — who had an off day — decided he would catch it so they could get on the same page.
“I feel like a lot of the credit has to go to him,” Eovaldi told the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam, “for really (teaching) me so fast. From the first day I got here, he was out here, ready to catch my bullpen. A lot of catchers, especially when they get an off-day, especially at this point of the season, they want to take the day off. But he was out there, willing to see my stuff. We were talking the first day about how I like to attack hitters and things of that nature.
“I feel like he’s just done an exceptional job using my strengths to my advantage and also, me trusting him on certain pitchers on what he wants to do.”
While he’s been in Boston, Leon historically has caught some of the Red Sox’s best pitchers, being behind the plate for most of Rick Porcello’s 2016 American League Cy Young-winning campaign, while also catching Chris Sale following his trade to the Red Sox. Leon has a great feel for pitchers and has been gushed over his ability to call a game.
And it appears that is going noticed by Eovaldi, who already has a good bit of trust in the 29-year-old backstop.
“It’s like he’s in my head at times,” Eovaldi said, “and other times, he’ll put down a sign and I’ll think, ‘OK, I see why he wants to do that.’ You don’t really see him thinking too much back there. It’s like he knows what he wants to do right away. It’s been a lot of fun working with him so far.”
The time Leon has put in and his skill behind the plate is paying off in a big way, and the Red Sox only can continue that remains the case so that their top pitchers keep thriving.