Detroit Tigers: It’s time to remove Matthew Boyd from the starting rotation

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Entering the 2020 season, the Detroit Tigers expected to see Matthew Boyd anchor their starting rotation.  Now it’s time to find the struggling southpaw another role.

If this had been a regular 162 game season rather than a shortened schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic the Detroit Tigers could be more patient with their starter.  This season is a sprint and Matthew Boyd‘s next stop should be the bullpen.

If Matt had any options left Toledo would be a feasible possibility.  It worked out well for Max Scherzer.  Am I comparing Max to Boyd? No.  I’m just suggesting if there were minor league baseball, and he had an option left it would be an excellent choice for Boyd at this point; it’s too bad it isn’t a possibility.  He needs to figure things out, and trying to right the ship at the Major League level isn’t an ideal situation.

Wednesday afternoon, Boyd took the mound hoping to secure yet another series win for the surging Detroit Tigers.  Unfortunately, the results were much the same in start number four on the season for Boyd, another loss.  Boyd conceded seven runs on seven hits, allowing two home runs in just 4.2 innings of work.  Matt’s now allowed a whopping 22 runs and five home runs while striking out only 18 during 19.1 innings of work.  Boyd’s season ERA after yesterday’s debacle has ballooned to 10.24.

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And to think, general manager Al Avila balked at the idea of moving Boyd last season commanding a small fortune in return for the lefties services.

I don’t know how manager Ron Gardenhire can keep running this guy onto the mound every five days.

This isn’t a Justin Verlander type situation where he’s proved to be an ace in the past and is trying to work himself through some struggles.  These horrible performances stem back to mid-summer of last season.  Boyd started the first half of ’19 looking like an ace, the second half of the year; he looked like Jordan Zimmermann pitching not as a National but as a Tiger.  Maybe worse.

During the first half of the 2019 season, Boyd accumulated 142 strikeouts and earned himself a respectable 6-6 record throwing 107 innings with a rebuilding Tigers club.  Boyd produced a solid 3.87 ERA to go with a 1.121 WHIP.  The one number that stands out is the 19 home runs allowed.

Aside from the 20 home runs allowed; the second half of the 2019 season, it was much different than the first.  Boyd threw 78.1 innings, en route to a 3-6 record, producing a 5.51 ERA and 1.379 WHIP over 14 starts.  Boyd allowed a league-worst 39 home runs over 32 starts last season; another trend that’s bled into 2020.  He’s surrendered five home runs over his first four starts.

Boyd is essentially a two-pitch pitcher.  He throws a four-seam fastball nearly 54% of the time, and during the 2020 season, he’s only averaged 91.7 MPH per heater, according to Fangraphs.  Boyd’s top secondary pitch is a slider in which he throws 32% of the time.

Early last season, his slider had been a tremendous weapon for him; a strikeout pitch.  From June of 2019 until the present day, that slider is acting more like a cement mixer that lacks bite and spins over the heart of the plate.  The next time someone touches that baseball, it’s usually a stadium attendant at the end of the game cleaning up all of the home run balls that have rolled to a halt on the wrong side of the outfield wall.

In addition to those two pitches, Matt mixes in a curveball 7.7% of the time and a change-up 6.6% of the time.  When you think about it, he’s really just a two-pitch pitcher without an elite pitch.  He doesn’t have the ability to blow hitters away with a dominant fastball, and his secondary pitches are subpar.  It’s challenging for a starting pitcher to get through a Major League lineup once with below-average ‘stuff’ asking a starter to get through a lineup two or three times, in this case, is proving to be impossible.

It’s time to acknowledge Spencer Turnbull as the Tigers’ ace and move Boyd to the bullpen until he can solve his repertoire issues.  Another idea would be using Matt in an ‘opener’ format similar to what the organization is doing with Michael Fulmer.  Let Boyd pitch three innings. Hopefully, he enjoys some success and take him out of the ballgame before the wheels fall off.  Although I’d prefer to see Boyd work in a mop-up role up or down five runs until he proves he can get outs once again.

As for the vacant spot in the rotation if the bullpen is the desired choice?

Yes, it’s time to give phenom Casey Mize a look at the big league level.  The Detroit Tigers currently sit 9-7, a game back of the division-leading Minnesota Twins.  Why not call the young right-hander up and hope to catch lightning in a bottle?

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It can’t be worse than watching Boyd throw every fifth day.