Detroit Tigers fans are well aware of the pitching capabilities of Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmerman. This article is an attempt to analyze the potential success of one of their other starters: Matt Boyd.
In 2017, every American league team used at least 7 different starting pitchers during the long, and sometimes gruesome, baseball season. For the fledgling 2018 Detroit Tigers, the use of only seven starters would be a godsend.
Certainly, 2017 will be a distant memory when it comes to the great expectations that arose at the start of last season. The Tigers appeared to once again compete for the division title or minimally for a wild-card spot.
Through trades and attrition, this year’s team is a vague reflection of years past. We no longer have dreams of playoff baseball but pray that we are not “that team” that others feast on.
In 2016, the Detroit Tigers acquired Jordan Zimmermann from the Washington Nationals. After a tremendous April, Zimmermann began experiencing physical problems and has been an up and down starter since.
From all reports, Zimmermann is healthy. If he can regain his lost fastball speed, Zimmermann may once again approach his past All-Star performance level (2013,14).
2016 also saw Michael Fulmer‘s dominating pitching performances. For his exceptional season, he was awarded American League Rookie of the Year Honors.
The 2018, the Detroit Tigers chance of success depends in a large part on their young pitching talent.
To assess Boyd’s potential, one can study his history in the minor leagues. He appears to be a quick learner.
After signing with the Jays in 2013, Boyd saw a brief but successful stint with the Lansing Lugnuts. He was elevated to Advanced A where he saw the start of a repeatable series of ups and downs.
Boyd finished the 2013 season with an 0-2 record and 5.40 ERA. He rebounded in 2014 and pitched 90 /3 innings. He had a 5-3 with 103 K’s and a 1.39 ERA.
Boyd was promoted to AA ball where history would repeat itself. He was shelled in his first trip to AA only to record a low ERA and numerous K’s in his return in 2015.
Boyd was elevated to AAA ball. After a short but successful trip the Buffalo Bisons, he was elevated to the big leagues by Toronto in 2015.
Boyd’s record in the big leagues has once again been up and down. While he has played three partial seasons in AAA, pitching necessities by the big league club has limited his time there.
While many of his contemporaries were in the minors perfecting their craft, Boyd found himself in the majors doing the same.
The road has been tenuous. After part of three seasons in the Majors, Boyd has a 13-22 record with a 5.47 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.
On each occasion that he was demoted to AAA, Boyd rose to the occasion by posting good statistics.
Boyd relies on a fourseam fastball that approaches 93 -94 mph and an 81 mph change-up as the backbone of his pitching repertoire. In addition, the left-hander also has a curve, a slider and a sinker.
For Matt Boyd to succeed this year he must find greater movement on his curve and sinker. Batters are hitting too many fly balls on these pitches.
To Boyd’s credit he has shown nominal loss in velocity in both his fastball and sinker as he progresses multiple times through a batting order.
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As Boyd’s history has shown, he can weather bad outings or seasons with growth, maturity and experience. It must be pointed out, once again, that he is learning his craft in the Major Leagues.
Many great pitchers have floundered at the beginning of their career. It is of necessity that organizational higher-ups, and most assuredly the fans, keep this in mind if they wish to develop and keep these young prospects.