What Rangers need to see out of Nathan Eovaldi's Opening Day start

Rangers All-Star Nathan Eovaldi has been given the nod to start the Rangers' season off against the Cubs on Opening Day March 28th.

World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five
World Series - Texas Rangers v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Five / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

As expected, it was announced on Tuesday that Nathan Eovaldi had been given the nod by manager Bruce Bochy to be the Rangers' Opening Day starter. The game will be on March 28th against the Chicago Cubs. This will be Eovaldi's fourth Opening Day start of his career and his first one with the Rangers.

After Jacob deGrom went down early last season, Eovaldi became the bonafide ace of the Rangers rotation. He was one of the league's most dominant pitchers through the season's first half. He was especially dominant in May, winning five of the six games he pitched while taking two into the eighth inning and completing another one.

He went into the All-Star break with a .264 ERA, which earned him his second All-Star game appearance. He ended up finishing the season with a 12-5 record and a 3.63 ERA before becoming one of the most significant contributors to the Rangers World Series run. Needless to say, he was utterly dominant throughout the postseason. 

Texas Rangers starter Nathan Eovaldi earns Opening Day nod

The Rangers are stuck between a rock and a hard place with the current state of their pitching staff. For the first half of the season, the Rangers will once again be relying heavily on Eovaldi, who will be given the tough task of stabilizing the Rangers rotation. The Rangers will need a similar campaign to the one he put up last season, and he will have to log a good amount of innings again, especially in the first few months of the season.

It is imperative that Eovaldi's opening day outing goes well because it will set the tone for how the pitching staff performs, primarily through the first half of the season, until reinforcements deGrom and Max Scherzer return from IL. Due to that, the Rangers will need to see a solid outing from Eovaldi for Chris Young and company to be ensured that Eovaldi can hold the rotation down similarly to how he did last season, at least until deGrom and Scherzer return to the mound.

Some of the pressure on Eovaldi has been lifted with the recent news of Corey Seager and Josh Jung recovering well from injury; at the moment, they're expected to return to start the season or, at worst, a few weeks after the opener. This news relieves Eovaldi of some of his current burden, especially since he is expected to carry the Rangers rotation through the first half of the season.

Hopefully, Eovaldi can assure that the Rangers start their season on the right note by pitching similarly to how he pitched last year to start the season. In a familiar refrain, the Rangers will be asking a lot out of him, and if the Rangers want to remain contenders, Eovaldi will have to rise to the occasion once again and get the Rangers through their first half of the season pitching problems.