Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire spoke of the 17-13 extra cruise victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, August 7, 2020, at PNC Park.
Detroit Press Free
Matthew Boyd was supposed to be detroit The Axis of the Tiger entering this season. He had an ERA 3.87 before the break at All-Star 2019, forcing general manager Al Avila to demand a big return on the trade deadline.
He did it again in the off-season, but after a 5.51 ERA after halfway point, the teams will not extend their prospects ready for MLB.
That left Boyd in a Tigers and organization uniform counting on a rerun of his numbers from the first half of 2019 – a 1,121 WHIP, 142 strikes and 20 walks on 107 occasions across 18 starts.
Through three appearances this season, the left-hander has an ERA of 9.20, second in terms of breaks with at least one entry coming in on Saturday, with a 1.91 WHIP and 13 hits in 14⅔ cases. His strike rate has dropped from 30.2% to 18.9% since last year. His MLB percentage ratings are weak: 38 in exit speed, 26 in kick rate and 30 in strike vibration percentage.
Waking up for four races against the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals in consecutive five-entry appearances, Boyd promised to improve. But he did the spiral again on Friday in an 11-day clash with the Pittsburgh Pirates: seven runs in eight hits and three walks with five hits in 4⅔ cases. His opponent, right-back Chad Kuhl, started his first game in almost two years and scored seven through four one-way ball shots.
Kuhl looked like an ACE, Boyd did not.
This is a problem for the Tigers, and an even bigger problem for Boyd, as each of his exits will meet with growing skepticism moving forward.
“I just want some back tonight,” Boyd said after Friday’s 17-13 victory. “We got some really good kicks on the slide, and then I gave up five runs in those two run houses. Both, I tried to reverse a small beat instead of just trusting them.”
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But it was not just a matter of giving up those running at home. Rather, it was the players he allowed them. Facing Erik Gonzalez – 9th hits – with a 2-2 count in the fourth arc, his 81 mph slider hung in the area. Even Gonzalez, who entered with 22 homers in 223 career games, could not miss. The ball bounced off the bat at 106.7 mph and traveled 463 meters to the left field for a double blast and the Pirates 4-1 lead.
Three of his five attacks, however, came with sliders.
“It is not necessary to return the wheels,” Boyd said. “I just did not stay in it. I tried to bring it down instead of just believing it as I did, literally, the field before. And that’s something I did a lot earlier in my career. I “I haven’t done it much lately, but now it’s an issue you just deal with. You make the adjustment and move on. Curveball was good, nonetheless.”
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One time later, Phillip Evans made a 79 km / h slider (again, in the middle of the area) for the first MLB homer of his career in 87 attacks.
“I just lost the field,” Boyd said. “This is no excuse for anything, but we are only three beginnings of this. And unfortunately, they did not go as planned.”
Boyd inconsistencies, command failures, and lack of conditions are approaching. While the Tigers will not give up on him, as manager Ron Gardenhire alluded, his battles cannot continue as the organization continues to leave the amazing prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning at the alternative training site in Toledo.
Could they be better than Boyd? It remains to be seen.
After speaking with an apologetic Boyd before putting him with two opponents in fifth place, Gardenhire is not worried and will not lift his left hand from point 1 in rotation.
“He’s in charge,” Gardenhire said. “I believe as we go here, Boyd will be very good. He can take his place. Right now, he’s in a little fight and maybe he’s trying hard.”
Between three consecutive poor starts, the Tigers know they could have tackled Boyd twice last year – in the trade run and offsason season. But they do not.
Now they are stuck with it, for better or for worse.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.