Detroit Tigers starter Matthew Boyd was on his way to a renaissance 2021 campaign, but a recurring injury may dampen those efforts
There are big “what-if’s” in sports–what if Derek Jeter got drafted by the Houston Astros? Or, what if Michael Jordan never retired? What if the Detroit Pistons took Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh or Dwayne Wade in the 2003 draft? It may not be the same magnitude as these franchise-altering decisions, but I cannot help but wonder what the Detroit Tigers season would have looked like with Matthew Boyd and the rest of the starting rotation completely intact for the entire season.
It’s a dream, really, because it is rare that an entire rotation stays healthy through a complete season–but a Casey Mize, Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull,
, and Tarik Skubal rotation would have undoubtedly improved the club’s already surprising record. Nevertheless, Teheran was shut down for the year after an uncharacteristic bullpen session and made exactly one start in 2021, Spencer Turnbull opted for Tommy John Surgery, and now Matthew Boyd was scratched from his scheduled start on Friday night with elbow soreness.
Boyd made two, four-inning appearances after leaving during his June 14th start. On August 29th, he would give up two runs and strike out five. September 4th was not as fruitful: seven hits, five runs, six strikeouts. He was the scheduled starter for the September 10th game against the Tampa Bay Rays but ended up being a last-minute loss.
Detroit Tigers brass and medical staff are remaining close-to-the-vest with their words on Boyd to this point, but with 20 games left on the schedule and a presumed injured-list stint upcoming, Matthew Boyd’s 2021 likely will come to an end. It was a promising campaign: 1.4 bWAR, 15 starts, 3.89 ERA, and a home run rate which he was able to cut in half under pitching coach Chris Fetter.
There are a variety of outcomes for Boyd beyond this season, though. The best-case scenario would be general fatigue and he would be ready to join a 2022 rotation where, realistically, they’d need a couple of arms to join Mize/Boyd/Skubal/Manning/Alexander to get through a full season. If the Detroit Tigers do lose their Opening Day starter, though, it could be an overhauled starting cast with Skubal and Mize being the only holdovers.
Once thought to be the strength of the organization, pitching remains a need on the big league club. Daniel Norris flipped to a bullpen arm before being shipped to Milwaukee, Michael Fulmer is thriving in his new bullpen role, Matt Manning has struggled, Alex Faedo is recovering from Tommy John himself, and Turnbull will miss the entire 2022 season. Boyd may get added to those departures; if he does, it’ll take some creativity and likely some dollars to compete next season.
I’ve learned to put nothing past Chris Fetter, but if Matthew Boyd misses a significant part of 2022, it’ll be an uphill climb to contend.