Nathan Eovaldi is becoming the latest Red Sox postseason go-to guy

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ALCS Game 2 - Martinez and Devers Grand Slams, Final Call
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HOUSTON - Friday night after the Red Sox loss, this is what Chris Sale had to say about the guy who was pitching the next day, Nathan Eovaldi: "I don’t think there’s another guy on the planet I’d rather be pitching tomorrow than Nate. You look at what he’s done this year. You look at his postseason resume. The guy stacks up with anybody honest. I don’t care where we’re at, who we’re facing, what the lead (or) the deficit is, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got the right guy on the right mound tomorrow, and that’s all we can say."

About 20 hours later, after the Sox' 9-5 Game 2 win over the Astros, J.D. Martinez had his turn: "To me, playoff time, I want Nate on the mound because he just seems to have it. He has that dog in him where he comes out every time, and he makes it really, really hard on those hitters."

The point is, the perception didn't change, and probably won't any time soon.

Eovaldi has joined the elite club of Red Sox starting pitchers who give off that unique postseason vibe, the one that suggests that he is the answer to any October question.

Curt Schilling. Derek Lowe. Josh Beckett. Jon Lester. John Lackey. John Lackey. And, now, there is Eovaldi.

Each significant postseason run has had this sort of presence. The prerequisite be put into this category is usually somebody who goes at least 20 innings and finishes with an ERA of either under a 2.00 ERA or just above it.

While Eovaldi's line against the Astros wouldn't set the world on fire along the lines of what Beckett did four starts through the 2007 World Series run (1.20 ERA, 35 strikeouts, two walks), or Jon Lester managed in 2008 (2.36 ERA in 4 starts) or 2013 (1.56 ERA in 5 starts). But, in this landscape, it certainly kept nailing down his narrative.

Eovaldi has now pitched in nine postseason games with the Red Sox, making five starts. His ERA stands at 2.37 with an opponents hitting just .191. The Sox have won all but one of the appearances, with that singular defeat representing perhaps his finest moment when he pitched six innings of one-run relief in the middle of the night at Dodger Stadium in 2018.

This was actually the most runs he has surrendered as a postseason starter, coming all in the fourth inning after the Red Sox had built a nine-run lead.

While the Red Sox and Astros both find themselves trying to piece together starting staff's the rest of the way, Eovaldi has emerged as what appears to be the ultimate separator - living life as a postseason ace.

"There's a reason we map things the way we do," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "Some people don't agree with us, but I think we have a pretty good pulse of what we do in our program. Yesterday we almost pulled that off. Obviously, we want Chris to go deeper, and I think he will, but having Nate in Game 2 understanding and knowing that there's a good chance he is going to go deep in the game with the off day tomorrow, we felt comfortable with the way we did things. He's has been a horse for us, he's been amazing, and he went out there and did an amazing job."

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