The Detroit Tigers 2016 Spring Training was the battle of the young pitchers. With the first four spots in the rotation given to the “old guys” Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez, and Mike Pelfrey, the fifth spot in the rotation was up for grabs.
But, as the season wore on and the “old guys” suffered, Boyd proved himself a valuable addition to the Tigers.
Boyd came to the Detroit Tigers when Dave Dombrowski sold off the lefty David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline in 2015. Most fans and pundits focused on Daniel Norris, with Boyd quietly floating under the radar. But, Boyd made himself known and proved that the trade-one-lefty-for-two deal definitely went in the Tigers’ favor.
Several Highlights During the Season
There were a handful of highlights in Boyd’s season and they happened because of a subtle change in his pitching style. In the later months of the season, Boyd’s pitching improved after working with pitching coach Rich Dubee. The pair worked together to drop Boyd’s arm slot a few inches. This drop added a few miles per hour to his fastball and it managed to affect his other pitches, too.
Boyd became a regular starting pitcher in June when Jordan Zimmermann was sent to the DL. Unfortunately, June was not a good month for him – the team lost three of the four games he pitched. But, July was another story. He pitched in four games again, and he earned wins in three of them.
The big change to his delivery showed up in August and was on full display in the 2-0 shutout he pitched against the Texas Rangers on the 13th. In seven innings, he threw 99 pitches, allowing two hits, walking two, and striking out three. His following game, he pitched against the Boston Red Sox, allowing one earned run in six innings. Boyd was on a roll, proving to the Tigers brass that the young guys could pitch better than most of the old guys.
Appreciating the Stats
Boyd was a true asset to the team in 2016 where he ate up 97.1 innings. He finished the season with an ERA of 4.55, but in July and August his ERA was 2.55. He and Jarrod Saltalamacchia became a regular team that functioned well together as the veteran catcher supporting the young pitcher.
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For as good as Boyd was in July and August, he struggled in September. He had two outings in September that were less-than-stellar. One was against the Minnesota Twins in a game that the Tigers had to win. Boyd pitched in six innings and gave up eight runs in a good old shellacking that saw poor pitching and poor hitting from the Tigers.
Boyd finished the season on his lowest note of the year in a game against the Kansas City Royals on September 25. He started the game and was unable to record one out before he let the Royals hit for the cycle in their first four at-bats. He lasted through five batters before Brad Ausmus went to the bullpen for the remainder of the game. The Tigers lost that game 9-12.
Despite the unusual outing at the end of the season, Boyd showed that he can help the team. He and the two other young pitchers, Norris and Michael Fulmer, were a positive part of an aging team.