The Detroit Tigers currently have a record of 6-10 after being swept in 4 games by the Oakland Athletics. All four contests were won in convincing fashion by an Oakland team that has won 8 games in a row. The best game of the series for the Tigers came on Sunday and was led by the starting pitching of Matthew Boyd. His 7 & 1/3 innings pitched was the second longest outing by a Detroit starter in this young season. Unfortunately however, his 8th inning was cut short after giving up a home run that tied the game at two runs apiece.
That Sean Murphy home run was the first home run given up in Boyd’s four starts this year. Although it gave the A’s the needed momentum to win, it’s a welcome sign for a pitcher that has been haunted by home runs his entire career. In 2020, the 30-year-old gave up a homer in 9 of his 12 starts. He also didn’t pitch more than six innings at all last year. This season however, he has lasted into the seventh inning in three consecutive appearances on the mound.
“All I can do is make my pitches. I can change speeds, I can try to read swings the best I can and just go pitch to pitch on that and that’s really what we’ve emphasized and that’s what’s been fun…”Matthew Boyd on the successful start to his 2021 season
Boyd has done a lot of improving since the shortened 58-game season in 2020. It may be in a smaller sample size, but his walks and WHIP is way down. An ERA of 2.03 puts him in the top-10 in the entire MLB. The seven-year-veteran probably won’t admit it, but he would be happy to know it’s the lowest ERA he has held 4 starts into a season.
The Long Awaited Ace?
Saying that Matthew Boyd is an ace in today’s MLB may be an overreaction. There is no denying however, this may finally be the season he gets his act together. While Tigers prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal are still trying to get their sea legs, Boyd has been a solid role model. He pitched the most innings in Spring Training for Detroit, and is on pace to do the same in the regular season.
You may remember Matthew Boyd joined the club via a 2015 trade centered around David Price. It is hard to compare the two pitchers, but it is not a stretch to say Detroit is finally getting the value they hoped for. The left hander is the longest tenured Tiger alongside Miguel Cabrera and Daniel Norris. Although he has never finished a year with a winning record, Boyd has been durable and available. He doesn’t do one thing particularly well, just enough to put his team in a position to win. Strikeouts have been his go to out, but this season, his revamped changeup is forcing more ground balls. Matthew is finally seizing the opportunity he has with being first in Detroit’s rotation.
The Washington native may also be benefitting from his new catcher, Wilson Ramos. Probably the most experienced player that has caught for Boyd, Ramos has caught for All-Stars Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer. You can see a definitive difference in the command of Boyd’s pitches and pitch variety, as a result. He looks comfortable on the mound which is good considering he has only received more than 3 runs of support in one outing.
Matthew Boyd will be key to Tigers success in 2021. New manager AJ Hinch has prioritized improving the pitching staff and so far it has. Detroit hired pitching coach Chris Fetter to help put that plan into action, and Boyd has been the benefactor boasting the best win-loss record on the team. Despite the Tigers having a rough start these first 16 games, they have to be pleased with Boyd’s performance.