Nathan Eovaldi Wins Debut On a Day That Nearly Lives in Infamy

With apologies to the impressive debut of Nathan Eovaldi, which we’ll get to in a second, just about everything else that happened tonight was nearly overshadowed by the seemingly serious injury suffered by shortstop Dee Gordon on a third inning rundown. As the Dodgers play out the string in 2011, few things are more important than seeing if Gordon can handle the position full-time in 2012, and with fans already reeling from Rubby De La Rosa‘s elbow injury and the trade of Trayvon Robinson in the last week, another blow to the team’s young core might just be the gut punch that pushes us over the edge. As Gordon lay in pain on the ground, we could be forgiven for thinking the worst. What if Gordon was out for the season? What would that mean for 2012? If he required surgery on his throwing arm, what would that do to his superior arm strength? Would this be the excuse Ned Colletti has been waiting for to bring Juan Castro out of retirement? Call it fatalistic if you must, but after all we’ve seen this year, a serious injury to another top prospect at this point would be less “ugh, that’s disappointing” and more “he’s hurt? You know what? Of course he is.” Fortunately for our collective sanity, initial tests ruled out a dislocation or separation, and though Gordon won’t play on Sunday, he’s not likely to head to the disabled list, thus avoiding blue-tinged mass suicides across the nation. (Gordon took to Twitter following the game to claim he wasn’t seriously hurt, as well.)

Back to Eovaldi, he was a winner in his big league debut despite throwing 30 pitches in a second inning that saw him allow two walks and two singles, the final one coming off the bat of pitcher Joe Saunders, which scored the first two Arizona runs. The two walks and two runs were the only of either he allowed in his five frames, while striking out seven. As Eric Stephen of TrueBlueLA notes, the seven strikeouts were tied for fourth-most in a debut by a Dodger starter since they moved to Los Angeles, matched by Clayton Kershaw, Hideo Nomo, and Don Sutton – three names who had or are having pretty solid careers in blue. (Kaz Ishii, Pedro Astacio, and Eric Gagne were the three who had more, and volumes could be written about their ups and downs as Dodgers.)

If anything, the second-inning struggles of Eovaldi made the following innings seem even better, as he could have easily let the game get away from him as the baserunners piled up. After getting Willie Bloomquist to fly out to end the second, he retired eight of the remaining ten hitters he saw, allowing two harmless singles. All in all, things couldn’t really have gone better for the newest Dodger.


Speaking of Robinson, you probably saw he made a fantastic catch in his Seattle debut on Friday. How’d he follow that in his second game?

(Yeah, that was supposed to be an animation of the homer, just like I had of the catch. Unfortunately, that’s pretty difficult to do when once again, Time Warner has decided that having reliable service is beyond their capabilities, so video isn’t doable right now. The point is, Robinson is off to a great start, TWC continues to suck, and this trade isn’t looking any better right now than it did when it happened.)

Trayvon Robinson, Seattle Mariner

In his MLB debut for the Seattle Mariners, Trayvon Robinson sure made a nice impression, no?

Robinson also chipped in a single, though the Mariners lost 1-0 to Jered Weaver and the Angels in 10 innings. Of course, the Dodgers had a pretty good night of their own – six runs in the top of the third inning will do that for you – and I promise that this isn’t going to turn into the daily Robinson report. (Unless, as expected, he provides far more value than the players the Dodgers received in return for him, though it should be noted catcher Tim Federowicz homered in Albuquerque, as did John Lindsey and Justin Sellers.)

I also want to take the time to praise Javy Guerra, who struck out three in 1.1 scoreless innings to get his 10th save, coming in with two outs in the eight after Mike MacDougal walked two and made a throwing error. I’ve been lukewarm on Guerra for some time, feeling that simply getting “saves” doesn’t make a pitcher any good, especially since his peripherals were iffy and his minor-league track record showed little indication of success. At the end of play of July 6, Guerra had struck out just 10 in 17.1 innings, while allowing 19 hits and five walks, good for a line of .284/.342/.343 against. In the month since, he’s appeared in 10 games with a 12/2 K/BB, allowing just five hits without an earned run. I’m still not sure that Guerra can keep this up over the long-term, but for the moment, he’s outdoing all our expectations.

Speaking of pitchers who bypassed Albuquerque on their way to the bigs – as has happened more than a few times this year – Nathan Eovaldi has been recalled to make tonight’s start, with John Ely headed back to AAA. Kudos to ESPNLA’s Tony Jackson on that one, since Tony predicted this seemingly out of nowhere earlier in the week.