Last time out, I mentioned how Matthew Boyd was contending for an All-Star selection while also trying to fight off what was becoming a mediocre month of June. Unfortunately, he lost both battles, being left off the initial American League roster and surrendering four runs to the Texas Rangers. The lefty is probably happy to see the calendar turn, as he ended June with a 5.90 ERA.
Despite his struggles both against the Rangers and throughout this little rough stretch, Boyd has continued to look dominant more often than not. He struck out 11 against Texas, moving his strikeout rate to 32.8 percent, and he has not walked more than two batters in a start since April 2. However, he lately has fallen victim to the long ball, and he gave up three homers in his most recent start.
This is a bit of a peculiar trend, as Boyd went from 0.87 homers per nine innings to start the season to 3.10 per nine in June. Perhaps he was due for some regression before, but the numbers are definitely moving in the wrong direction: fly balls are up seven percentage points to 48.6 percent, and his hard-hit rate is up almost 12 points to 47.3 percent.
Maybe this is a small sample size, but it sure looks like something to keep an eye on. Boyd is still having a solid season, but his shiny breakout year is beginning to fade a little. He is someone that could benefit from a little rest before the second half of the season.
Chicago White Sox (39-42) at Detroit Tigers (27-52)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., Guaranteed Rate Field
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (5-6, 3.72 ERA) vs. RHP Reynaldo Lopez (4-7, 6.12 ERA)
Game 81 Pitching Matchup
Reynaldo Lopez was pretty good last year, posting a 3.91 ERA in almost 200 innings. 2019 has been just about the opposite, with the 25-year-old struggling greatly through his first 17 outings. His last seven starts have seen 31 earned runs and 11 homers in just 36 ⅔ innings, and while his full-season numbers are not quite at this level, they are not too far off.
Lopez came to Chicago via the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals and certainly had some accolades as a prospect. The future is likely still bright for the righthander, but this season is not exactly how White Sox fans envisioned his second year in the organization to go.
The exact reason for his struggles is tricky to pinpoint. His velocity is a tick down, but not significantly, and pitch usage is fairly similar to last season. Lopez has brought his strikeout rate up to 20 percent while keeping his walks the same, but as mentioned before, his home run numbers are elevated.
Maybe there is some element of bad luck which is at least partially responsible for the less impressive results. Lopez’s BABIP is at .321, much higher than his .284 career average, and his 15.9 percent home run to fly ball rate is almost five points above his average. These do not explain the whole picture, but do not be surprised to see him improve during the second half.
Key matchup: Tigers batters vs. Lopez
While Lopez has struggled against most teams this year, there is one offense who he has handled. To the surprise of no one, that would be the Tigers, who looked less than threatening against Lopez in two April starts, tallying just nine hits and two runs in 12 total innings. The offense has not been any better as of late, so perhaps this is just the start Lopez needs.
Boyd gives up a few runs, but overall looks good despite taking the loss.