Eovaldi's 'split' decision is paying dividends

Eovaldi's 'split' decision is paying dividends

ANAHEIM -- The splitter was a last-minute addition to Nathan Eovaldi's arsenal in his final games with the Marlins last September, a pitch he began tinkering with at the suggestion of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez as something to keep hitters more honest.

More than a half-year later, Eovaldi's project seems to be paying dividends. Eovaldi credited that pitch, which complements his fastball, curveball and slider mix, as helping him log his career-high eighth victory in the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Angels on Wednesday.

"I feel like just because I've been using them more, I've been able to gain confidence," Eovaldi said. "Not having to rely on the fastball all the time helps, so being able to make those big pitches, it's huge."

Eovaldi has won three straight starts for the first time in his career, bouncing back from a disastrous return to Miami on June 16 and improving to 8-2 with a 4.52 ERA.

"It's very exciting," Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez said. "The thing that's going to take him to the next level is if he can control that split. That third pitch, speaking from a hitter's standpoint, it's devastating."

In that Miami start, Eovaldi said his emotions were too amped up, resulting in an eight-run pounding and a first-inning shower. He righted himself by stringing together a trio of solid performances against the Tigers, Astros and Angels. The lesson?

"Try not to do too much," Eovaldi said. "I feel like against the Marlins, I was just trying to do too much and a lot of my pitches were middle. My offspeed wasn't as good."

Facing the Halos, Eovaldi scattered five hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings before being chased by back-to-back walks to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols; left-hander Chasen Shreve bailed Eovaldi out of that jam to freeze his line.

Eovaldi said that his record wouldn't have been possible without the backing of the Yanks' offense; New York has provided Eovaldi with 70 runs in his 87 2/3 innings.

"Wins and losses are going to come," Eovaldi said. "The guys have been doing a great job giving me a lot of run support this year. Just trying to keep grinding."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.