Detroit Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd (left knee) expected to miss one start, avoid injured list

Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Tigers believe they have dodged a bullet with left-hander Matthew Boyd, the team’s best starting pitcher through the first month of the regular season.

The official timetable for his return from left knee tendinitis isn’t concrete, but manager AJ Hinch expects Boyd to miss Tuesday’s scheduled start against the Boston Red Sox, avoid a trip to the 10-day injured list and return to the mound next weekend against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.

“If we push him back all the way into the Kansas City series (May 11-13) at home after the second off day, then we could consider (the injured list),” Hinch said Saturday. “Right now, we don’t think he’s going to need that much time.”

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Boyd was removed from Thursday’s start against the Chicago White Sox in the second inning because of an abnormal feeling in his left knee, later revealed to be tendinitis. He made just 36 pitches. 

Hinch said Boyd “feels good” and will play catch Sunday before the series finale with the New York Yankees. He is going through rehabilitation therapy Saturday. Once Boyd is active and throwing on the field Sunday, Hinch should be able to gather a “telling evaluation” regarding a specific date for his return.

“Given that he’s jumping right back into throwing like that, and with minimal restrictions, we don’t think it’s going to get all the way to the Kansas City series,” Hinch said.

[ Why AJ Hinch said Tigers rookie Casey Mize ‘gets what it takes to be elite’ ]

In six starts, Boyd has a 2.27 ERA, seven walks and 24 strikeouts in 35⅔ innings. He gave up one earned run across eight innings in his last full start, a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on April 24.

Roster changes coming?

Losing 13 of their past 15 games, the Tigers (8-19) have the worst record in baseball. They also have the worst offense in baseball, with a .199 batting average through 27 games. They’re at the bottom in on-base percentage (.257), slugging percentage (.345) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.602). They have the worst strikeout rate (30.6%) and second-worst walk rate (6.9%). 

The strikeout total? A staggering 280. 

“I think the entire lineup is trying to put the entire offense on their backs and trying to do something positive,” Hinch said. “You run into some good pitching, that can be a negative outcome. You run into putting some pressure on yourself, that’s a negative outcome. The guys know exactly the struggles we’ve had, and when you show up and don’t score, it builds on that continual mental grind.”

[ As Tigers ‘need threats’ on offense, slugger Renato Nunez could be solution ]

With the minor-league season starting May 4, Hinch is starting to consider reinforcements. The most obvious choice is first baseman Renato Nunez, who already came up to the majors once this season. He is starting in Triple-A Toledo alongside another possible option in 22-year-old infielder Isaac Paredes.

Toledo has operated since the beginning of April as an alternate training site with workouts, intrasquad scrimmages and games against other alternate site teams. There wasn’t a ton of structure, compared to a typical minor-league campaign.

“It’s not the most conducive environment to kickstart a player (by demotion) or even evaluate a player who could come up here,” Hinch said. “We’ve been patient with that process. As the minor-league season opens up next week, and you start getting some guys some playing time, there’s more considerations on what our options are.”

[ How Isaac Paredes being ‘well-equipped’ at second base helps Tigers ]

Nunez, 27, hit .148 with two home runs, three RBIs, one walk and eight strikeouts in his seven games for the Tigers this season. He combined for a .247 batting average, 43 home runs and 121 RBIs in 203 games for the Baltimore Orioles in the 2019 and 2020 campaigns.

Paredes made his MLB debut last season and hit .220 in 34 games. This offseason, he secured the Mexican Pacific Winter League batting title with a .379 average in 42 games, chipping in 27 walks compared to 12 strikeouts.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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