What is modern postseason baseball without controversy involving replay review? In the bottom of the first inning of ALCS Game 4, with the Astros trailing the Red Sox 2-0, José Altuve slapped a Rick Porcello fastball to deep right field. Deep enough for a game-tying two-run home run, in fact. Right fielder Mookie Betts tracked the ball and leaped at the last minute to try to snag the ball, but came up a little short. The ball at first glance appeared to bounce off of a fan’s hand and back onto the field. Right field umpire Joe West initially ruled fan interference, meaning Altuve was out. The Astros challenged and the ruling was upheld, controversially.
Major League Baseball offered clarification on the ruling. Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post:
That was a huge swing for both teams as the game would have been tied otherwise. The Astros did push across a run later, in the bottom of the second, and the Red Sox added a run in the third, so the game is 3-1 as of this writing.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.