New York Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi’s recent string of excellence for the New York Yankees draws direct resemblance to his brilliant second half of last season. 

26-year-old flame thrower Nathan Eovaldi turned in another outstanding outing for the New York Yankees yesterday in Tampa. When the Yankees acquired him from the Miami Marlins prior to the 2015 season, they were trying to transform him into a true pitcher rather than a so-called “thrower”.

Larry Rothschild and the rest of the staff have done more than they ever could have hoped. They have not only turned him into a pitcher, they have turned him into an electrifying arm and, better yet, an ace in the making.

Eovaldi started out with New York the same way he finished with Miami, eye-popping on the radar gun but with no real secondary pitches. The lack of go-to off-speed offerings truly cost him as he would frequently get into long counts and have subsequently shorter outings.

The moment he arrived for spring training prior to his inaugural season in the Bronx, the staff tried to implement a splitter to his arsenal. Early in 2015, the experiment failed. Eovaldi could not get an effective grip and he got hammered as a direct result.

Following a June 16 start in Miami in which he got absolutely hammered for eight runs in two-thirds of an inning by his former team, there was little to no hope. The potential that existed simply was not being exercised.

Three days later when the Yankees brought him back to face the Detroit Tigers, something clicked. The splitter was finally there, he was finding ways to put hitters to bed earlier in counts, and he was mixing his pitches rather than hurling straight darts.

In 14 starts following the dreadful night in Miami, he allowed three runs or less in 12 of them. He compiled a 9-1 record from there on out, and his second half entailed 50 strikeouts in 56 innings along with a 3.67 ERA.

RELATED: What To Do With Michael Pineda

According to Brooks Baseball, Eovaldi’s splitter usage rose 28.44% from April to September of 2015. His confidence in the pitch grew immensely, which lessened the need for his slider which dropped 19.07% in utilization and decreased each month.

The right-hander made significant strides which have led to clear-cut results in 2016.

Opponents, according to Brooks Baseball, have struggled even more mightily against his splitter this season. They are batting .187 as opposed to .204 last season against that pitch. In addition, the variation between the fastball and split has led to an 82 point drop in opponent average against his four-seam fastball.

Opposing batters raked his fastball last year, hitting .332 off the pitch although it ranked right at the top of major league baseball with Noah Syndergaard in average velocity among starters (97.3 MPH).

With an ever so dominant splitter and a better pitching mind this year, opponents have managed only a .250 output off his heater and their slugging percentage has dropped from .453 to .333.

‘Nasty Nate’ has come out of the gates 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA that has dropped rapidly since a shaky start. At this rate, Eovaldi would pitch a few innings of 200 for the season, make 33 starts, and win 20 games.

Of course, a lot has to go smoothly for those numbers to fall into place, but the numbers indicate that Eovaldi is only getting better by the day.

With the constant evolution of that split-finger and a fastball that he consistently dials up to 97-plus MPH (97.7 MPH average) whether elevated or at the knees, the native Texan is awfully hard to keep up with.

There is no reason to believe that Eovaldi cannot turn into a horse that can help anchor this Yankees starting staff with the likes of Masahiro Tanaka. If he continues to head in a direction that has seen him pitch to a 2.03 ERA over his last five starts, the sky is the limit.

Five years from now, fans can potentially look back and laugh at the fact that they got a steal from the Miami Marlins. They got a project that was worked to no end until the results flared through; an ace that is up to the task every five days.

NEXT: Do The Yankees Need A Six-Man Rotation?