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Boyd displays value in strong start

Tigers lefty fans 10, allows one run in 6 1/3 innings
@DKramer_
July 28, 2019

SEATTLE -- If Sunday marked Matthew Boyd’s final start in a Tigers uniform, it was a tough one. Boyd pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but he gave up an RBI double to Kyle Seager that helped the Mariners crawl their way back to a 3-2 win. The comeback

SEATTLE -- If Sunday marked Matthew Boyd’s final start in a Tigers uniform, it was a tough one.

Boyd pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball, but he gave up an RBI double to Kyle Seager that helped the Mariners crawl their way back to a 3-2 win. The comeback was capped by a walk-off double by J.P. Crawford in the bottom of the 10th to complete a four-game series sweep of Detroit.

Joe Jiménez gave up a game-tying homer to Domingo Santana in the eighth, eliminating Boyd’s chance to earn his seventh win.

Box score

It was the Tigers’ 28th loss in their past 32 games and their 24th in their last 25 against the American League West.

Boyd isn’t in line to pitch again before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline, and he’s been the subject of many rumors as contending clubs continue to construct their rosters for the final two months of the regular season.

Because Boyd is in the midst of a breakout season, has shown an ability to develop and has three years of club control remaining after this season, he would likely net a significant return in a trade. And it’s believed that because an acquiring club would retain Boyd long-term, Detroit is seeking prominent prospect capital.

If change is in his imminent future, Boyd, who grew up in suburban Seattle, had the backdrop of his childhood home to help distract him this weekend. He celebrated his daughter’s second birthday and had at least two dozen family members and friends in attendance.

Wherever he pitches next, either in Arlington for the Tigers on Friday or in a different uniform somewhere else, Boyd will fine-tune a few command issues that led to his three walks. After all, they were out of character for the fifth-year left-hander.

Boyd’s 6.14 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the fifth best in the Majors, and more than double his previous career high. He was critical of the free passes he issued, including two in his final frame that set up the only run he allowed, when his final batter, Seager, doubled.

“The ramifications of the walks on the game ... when it happens that late in the game, any time, but especially when it's magnified, right?” Boyd said. “That's on me needing to be sharper there at the end. I came out of my delivery a little bit and just started to overthrow. I just need to be aware that if you walk guys like that, it shifts the whole game.”

But for his first six innings, Boyd cruised. He punched out 10 of the 25 Mariners he faced, utilizing his four-seam fastball and slider combination to fill up all quadrants of the strike zone. Boyd moved his fastball inside on both sides of the plate, which freed him up to backdoor his slider on the outside corner to righties. He finished the day with 24 swinging strikes and just 12 balls in play on his 111 pitches.

“That’s about as good a starting pitching outing against us as we’ve seen in quite a while,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

It was Boyd’s sixth double-digit strikeout game in 22 starts, which raised his season strikeout total to 178. His strikeout rate this season is up to 32.1 percent, fifth-best in the Majors behind Gerrit Cole (37.3), Chris Sale (35.5), Max Scherzer (35.3) and Justin Verlander (32.8). All of this from a pitcher whose career high before this season was 22.4 percent last year.

Largest jump in K rate from 2018-19 by a starting pitcher
Minimum 150 plate appearances both seasons
1) Lucas Giolito: 13.6%
2) Mike Clevinger: 11.9%
3) Carlos Rodon: 11.5%
4) Frankie Montas: 10.7%
5) Matthew Boyd: 9.7%
Figures entering play on Sunday

Boyd showed on Sunday why he might be a coveted piece for a contending club, and why he would warrant a significant return that could shape up the Tigers’ long-term future. He eats innings, stays in the zone and doesn’t allow baserunners -- all of which, for the most part, were on display on Sunday.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.