Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd was scratched from tonight’s scheduled start due to recurred soreness in his left elbow, tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com. Boyd was on the injured list from June 15 through Aug. 29 with discomfort in his left arm. Boyd will be placed back on the injured list, tweets Evan Woodbery of MLive.com.
It’s a tough blow for both Boyd and the Tigers. The 30-year-old southpaw has had a nice rebound from an awful 2020 season, pitching to a 3.89 ERA in 78 2/3 frames this season when healthy enough to take the mound. Boyd didn’t look great in his return from his recent IL stint, however, as he pitched just eight innings across two starts and yielded a total of seven earned runs.
Had Boyd remained healthy, he would’ve been one of the most asked-about players on this summer’s trade market — at least the second time in his career he’d have held that distinction. Clubs have looked into the possibility of trading for Boyd for several seasons now as the Tigers have been mired in a lengthy rebuild, but a deal has never come together.]
Interest in Boyd was likely at its peak in 2019, when he got out to a dominant start with a 2.85 ERA, a 30 percent strikeout rate and a 5.1 percent walk rate through his first dozen starts (72 2/3 innings). That showing was all the more impressive given the home-run boom that stemmed from what was widely believed to be a juiced ball during the ’19 campaign.
With more than three years of team control remaining at that point in 2019, the Tigers put an understandably sky-high price on Boyd, whose performance began to deteriorate in June and July. Boyd was still missing bats in droves and limiting walks, but like so many pitchers around the league, the home-run ball began catching up with him as the weather warmed. From June 1 through the trade deadline that year, Boyd notched a brilliant 90-to-15 K/BB ratio but yielded 15 home runs and was tagged for a 5.28 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. The Tigers didn’t find an offer to their liking and held onto Boyd.
It was defensible at the time, given that Boyd could be shopped in the offseason or even at any of the subsequent trade deadlines. No deal came together in the 2019-20 offseason, as Boyd never really regained his footing down the stretch that year. Any hopes of capitalizing on a strong few months to open the 2020 campaign were dashed both by the Covid-19 pandemic shortening the season and by Boyd’s rough first few starts of the season. This year, it was an injury that prevented a deal from potentially coming together.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Boyd’s health now, it could prove tough to find a significant return in a trade even if the renewed elbow issue proves minor. And, given the Tigers’ shift from a rebuilding club toward contending — owner Chris Ilitch has already suggested the team will spend this offseason — it’s perhaps likeliest that Boyd returns for what he and the club can only hope will be a healthier 2022 season.
Boyd’s lifetime 4.96 ERA and 4.66 mark over the past few seasons don’t exactly jump out, but he’s frequently shown all the pieces necessary to take his game to a new level. Boyd has regularly shown the ability to miss bats and limit walks, but he’s typically been rather home-run prone. This season, he looked to have the home-run issues curbed, but his strikeout rate dipped to 19.9 percent — his lowest mark since 2017. There are undoubtedly teams that view Boyd as a candidate to put everything together and break out as a strong mid-rotation arm (if not more). Being able to showcase that in a healthy 2022 campaign is now the best-case scenario for Boyd, however.