NEW YORK -- In May, Yankees right-hander Nathan Eovaldi took five steps forward. But in June, he's followed that with five steps back.
After allowing just seven runs in a 31-inning stretch between May 7-29, Eovaldi has unraveled, having allowed 25 earned runs over his last 26 innings. This culminated on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, where Eovaldi allowed five runs on six hits, four of which were home runs, as the Yankees lost to the Twins, 7-1.
As bad as the numbers were, Eovaldi looked to be on track to take another step forward through five innings Sunday. He had allowed just one run on two hits, struck out four and induced eight groundouts. However, things unraveled in the sixth.
According to Eovaldi, the main difference between the first five innings and the sixth was his ability to locate secondary pitches. The three sixth-inning homers came off his splitter, slider and curveball. Though he said he thought the curveball to Max Kepler was actually a well-placed pitch, Eovaldi wasn't pleased with where he left the pitches to Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi seemed to agree.
"I think it's bad location," Girardi said. "I think if you execute your pitch, a lot of the time no matter what pitch you throw, it's probably not going to be a home run."
If that's the case, Eovaldi has been missing on a lot more pitches this season than usual. He has already allowed 17 home runs through 15 starts this year, the most he's allowed in a season. Eovaldi has allowed the eighth-most home runs in baseball this season, and the .496 slugging percentage against him is the fifth-highest mark.
To Eovaldi, this is a product of not being aggressive enough early in counts. Eovaldi said he has found himself in unfavorable counts a lot this season, and that limits what he can throw and puts more pressure on certain pitches, leading batters to lock in. To avoid this, Eovaldi said he needs to pound the zone more effectively early in at-bats.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of the home runs Eovaldi has allowed -- 10 of the 17 -- have come in his June lapse, something of which Girardi seems to be aware.
"It does seem that way, and it's been in this stretch of five or six games where he's given up a lot," Girardi said.
Nick Suss is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.