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MLB

Three Teams That Should Target Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd

With the baseball season on hold, let’s think about potential trade scenarios. Tigers LHP Matthew Boyd was a hot name around last year’s MLB Trade Deadline, but he was never moved. But with Detroit amid a rebuild, 2020 may be the year the crafty lefty suits up for a new team. But who should acquire the services of Matt Boyd?

Matthew Boyd in 2019

Before we get into the teams that should consider acquiring Boyd, let’s first look at the 29-year old’s season last year. A former sixth-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013, Boyd had his best statistical season in 2019, striking out 238 batters in 185.1 IP last year. Boyd’s 30.2 K% rate not only was significantly higher than his 2018 rate (22.4%), but it was the twelfth best K% in baseball last season. And a lot of the success he had last year was courtesy of a devastating slider that he has great command of.

In 2019, Boyd finished second last season in whiffs on the slider out of the zone (only Nationals pitcher Patrick Corbin had more), and 118 of his 238 (48.3%) strikeouts were off the pitch.

The big problem, though, with Boyd is the number of home runs he has yielded. Batters went deep off of Boyd 39 times last season, and that total was the highest in the American League in 2019 (second highest in MLB). Back in 2018, batters hit 27 home runs off the lefty, and most of the homers he has given up over the past two years have been off his four-seamer.

35 of the 66 home runs Boyd has yielded over the past two seasons were off the four-seam fastball. 14 were off the slider. (Note: one home run has an unknown pitch type to Statcast blackout).

 

Still, a lot of teams would give up quite a bit for a talent like Boyd. But which teams could use Boyd the most in 2020?

READ: WINNERS AND LOSERS OF THE COVID-19-RELATED MLB/MLBPA DEAL

Astros

Let’s start with the defending American League Champion Houston Astros. Houston lost Gerrit Cole (Yankees) and Wade Miley (Reds) in the offseason, and even though the Astros’ rotation still looks solid, it wouldn’t hurt to add another starter. Boyd would fit in quite nicely with the Astros, given his high-spinning four-seamer and his lethal slider, but it would take a lot for the Tigers to move him. Would the Astros want to part with significant assets in order to acquire the 29-year old? I’m not sure about that, but he would fit in quite nicely in a rotation alongside Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, Zack Greinke and Jose Urquidy.

Red Sox

Even though the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers back in February, Boston isn’t really in a position to rebuild. Boston still has a lineup filled with talented hitters who helped bring them a World Series Championship in 2018. With a lineup that includes Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and J.D. Martinez, the Sox have a group of hitters that can give plenty of teams of trouble. Their pitching, however, has many questions.

Red Sox starters last year had an ERA of 4.95, eleventh worst in baseball during 2019. And with Chris Sale out for all of 2020, the Sox have some serious questions surrounding their starting pitching. Boston, like Houston, may not want to meet the cost, but Matt Boyd would certainly boost Boston’s rotation right now, as well as give the Sox a controllable arm for the next three seasons.

Brewers

Milwaukee will look to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year, and the Brewers will do so with some new faces in their rotation. Gone are pitchers Jordan Lyles (who has fantastic for the Brewers last season), Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, and Gio Gonzalez, all of whom who logged significant innings in 2019. This season, Brett Anderson, Eric Lauer, and Josh Lindblom join Milwaukee’s roster, and they will look to improve a rotation that finished in the middle of the pack in ERA (14th-4.40), K/9 (17th-8.4), and fWAR (20th-8.7).

But will those additions be enough to compete in the NL Central? Even though Milwaukee made the MLB Postseason last year, the Reds have improved quite a bit between last season and now, and the Cardinals still look like a formidable squad. And don’t sleep on the Cubs either, as they look to return to the playoffs after missing out in 2019. While acquiring Boyd would come with risks, the lefty could be a difference-maker in a division filled with tough lineups.


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