It’s easy to point at Matthew Boyd’s numbers and say that regression is coming. His 4.10 FIP is currently over a run and a half higher than his ERA, and other advanced metrics like xFIP and SIERA are even higher. He also has a history of looking good for several starts at a time before imploding for a game or two, sending his ERA skyrocketing.
But this feels different. Dating back to last September, Boyd has a 2.74 ERA in his last 11 starts. He has 51 strikeouts to 19 walks in those 65 2⁄3 innings, numbers not far off of his career rates. He hasn’t generated more swings and misses or upped his velocity — one reason why people are so hesitant to say he has improved — but is missing barrels better than ever before. Opponents are hitting the ball hard just 23 percent of the time against Boyd this year, resulting in an xwOBA of .292.
Boyd’s profile should play well against the Royals. They put the ball in play a lot, but don’t hit for much power. Kauffman Stadium eats up home runs better than almost any other American League ballpark, and the Tigers’ outfield defense is much improved from years past. But Boyd has struggled against Kansas City in his career, allowing a 7.05 ERA in 10 meetings. He has been been better against them in their past few matchups, though, including a great performance back on April 3.
Detroit Tigers (14-18) at Kansas City Royals (10-23)
Time/Place: 2:15 p.m., Kauffman Stadium
SB Nation site: Royals Review
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (1-2, 2.48 ERA) vs. RHP Jakob Junis (3-2, 3.29 ERA)
Game 33 Pitching Matchup
Jake Junis’ advanced numbers look a bit rough, but they are almost entirely based on a couple of rough outings against the Angels and White Sox. Junis gave up eight home runs in those two starts, resulting in a gaudy home run rate of 2.11 dingers per nine innings. The result is a 5.51 FIP a full run higher than his xFIP, with other measures like SIERA even more encouraged by the rest of Junis’ profile.
But there’s still some regression to be had for the 25-year-old righthander. He has limited opponents to a line drive rate of just 14.3 percent, an unsustainable figure for the entire season. His expected wOBA (xwOBA) is much higher than his actual wOBA allowed, and he doesn’t seem to have much more left in the way of missing bats, with an 8.8 percent swinging strike rate.
Junis seems to have the Tigers’ number, though. In five appearances against them in his short career, he is already 4-1 (and 2-0 this season). They have somehow scored 11 runs off him in those 27 innings, but are hitting just .212/.252/.384 as a team. He has 20 strikeouts to five walks, and has a WHIP of just 0.96.
Key matchup: Outfielders vs. the sun
Kansas City isn’t forecasted to get as much sun as we saw on Saturday, but the occasional cloud-less moment could still wreak havoc on a pair of outfields that will be quite busy this afternoon. Both pitchers have fly ball rates well above 40 percent — Boyd’s is at a whopping 52.3 percent! — and a lot of those tend to be of the tall, lazy variety. We saw Leonys Martin take one off his noggin on Saturday, and a similar gaffe could have greater consequence in this game.
Junis makes it three in a row against the Tigers this season.
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