Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dodgers need to be careful with Nathan Eovaldi

The Dodgers' handling of Nathan Eovaldi the last couple outings has been curious. As the top fill-in option for a Dodger starter or reliever, it's somewhat understandable. But as a top prospect and potential long-term solution in the rotation, it could hurt him in the future.

Last week, Eovaldi pitched one inning for the Chattanooga Lookouts. That immediately sparked speculation on Twitter. It was later revealed the early exit was because the Dodgers had concern about Chad Billingsley's groin. This week, it's unknown what the reason is.

Aaron Harang has a foot issue, but that doesn't seem to be it. Tony Jackson of ESPN LA tweeted it has to do with a reliever.

It's strange because Matt Guerrier just went on the disabled list on Monday and recalled Michael Antonini from Triple-A Albuquerque. So, which reliever is having issues now?

Todd Coffey went on the DL earlier in the season, extending Josh Lindblom's time in Los Angeles (even though he should be on the 25-man roster regardless). There hasn't been any mention of Jamey Wright, Scott Elbert, Kenley Jansen or Javy Guerra.

We can only hope it's Mike MacDougal.

At least it looks like Eovaldi is on his way to Los Angeles, though.
"There are strong indications Nathan Eovaldi could be headed this way. Not sure whom he replaces. Move won't be made before game"

Still, the Dodgers need to be careful in situations like this. While Eovaldi could ultimately end up a reliever, his value remains -- for the moment -- in the starting rotation. It's best not to mess with his flow or routine. If he were some journeyman pitcher, this wouldn't be a big deal. But he's the Dodgers second- or third-best prospect and limiting his innings because someone on the big league roster might be hurt could wind up hurting Eovaldi in the long run.

I understand doing it in August. I don't understand doing it now to a 22-year-old with one of the best arms in the system. A little caution should be exercised. The Dodgers can get by with someone else until Eovaldi's had the appropriate rest.

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