Los Angeles Dodgers: The Triumphant Return (of Nathan Eovaldi)

Jeff SpiegelContributor IIMay 29, 2012

The player every Dodger fan has been waiting for is finally here.

After weeks of toiling in the minor leagues, Nathan Eovaldi is finally back—and just in time!

Wait, you thought I was talking about someone else?

Ohhhh, that's right...Matt Kemp returns home tonight, also. Okay, so that's kind of a big deal, but tonight there is plenty to be excited about in Dodgertown!

Eovaldi, the 22-year-old Texan, will make his 2012 debut tonight against the the Brewers after a sensational season in 2011. In six starts last season, Eovaldi allowed two or fewer runs five times, as the Dodgers went 4-2 in games that he started.

After returning to the minors to begin this season (thanks to a full starting rotation and solid starts from back-end starters like Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang), Eovaldi posted a 3.09 ERA in eight starts at AA Chattanooga.

While Kemp's return will surely overshadow Eovaldi's replacement of Ted Lilly in the rotation, Eovaldi's success is nearly just as important to the Dodgers' long-term future. Coming into the season, Baseball America rated Eovaldi the Dodgers' No. 3 prospect.

Although younger players like Elian Herrera, Scott Van Slyke and Ivan De Jesus have filled in admirably during Kemp's absence, it is guys like Eovaldi who will be relied upon to be major contributors a few years down the line.

Typically known for having a robust farm system, the Dodgers reputation took quite a few hits during the Frank McCourt era, leaving the cupboard much more bare than in years past. That said, players such as Eovaldi will need to live up to their expectations, if the Dodgers want to find long-term, sustainable success.

So while the fans and media around the league will have their eyes fixed on Kemp's return tonight, I'll be just as excited to see Eovaldi's debut.