The Tigers managed to avoid a series sweep against the White Sox in Chicago on Thursday, matching their highest offensive output of the year in a 11-5 victory behind Matthew Boyd. The talented Red Sox now arrive in Detroit for a weekend series on the eve of the All-Star break in a rematch of the general manager series between Al Avila and Dave Dombrowski.
With 82 games now in the books, the Tigers have officially passed the midpoint of the season. That said, on the agenda for this Friday’s links post are the secrets to Matthew Boyd’s success, Cody Stavenhagen’s blueprint for the second half of the season, some more international signings, and a bit of history to round it out.
The how and where and why of Matthew Boyd
Let us get something out of the way: Matthew Boyd’s All-Star snub is nothing short of a travesty. During his 2019 breakout season so far, he has blossomed into a strikeout machine who can be counted on every five games to give the Tigers a chance to win. This article from Baseball Prospectus takes a look at what makes Boyd who he is. And in the conclusion, a very flattering comparison to another dominating lefty is made.
The gist is that a few adjustments — particularly in his slider delivery — have contributed to his emergence as a dominating starter. Then-Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton is credited with opening Boyd up to alterations in how he sets his wrist for the pitch, and Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson’s acceptance of the change has helped as well. Anderson refers to it as a “depth pitch”, which aids in the psychology of how it is utilized.
His dominating slider paired with a four-seam fastball that now shares the same arm-slot and release point has helped alleviate his past troubles when it comes to deception. Boyd’s ability to tunnel those pitches has taken him to another level, despite his changeup being perceived in past seasons as his superior secondary offering. That offspeed offering is still there, he is just using it now exclusively to righties with much success.
The pitcher mentioned at the beginning that Boyd shares a “combination of his size, his delivery, and the repertoire” with is no other than Chris Sale. And if that is not enough for you, our friends over at The Crawfish Boxes recently made a comparison to Randy Johnson. Not too shabby.
A blueprint for the second half
Cody Stavenhagen over at The Athletic published a roadmap for the Tigers’ second half of the season, and as a whole his points are fairly obvious. It seems that the losing is starting to grate even on manager Ron Gardenhire’s nerves, but there is no indication that there will be an upward swing after the All-Star break. Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways the Tigers can be productive and squeeze some lemonade out of the lemons they have been dealt.
Stavenhagen’s seven-point plan is rather simple and straightforward, though “easier said than done” certainly applies here. The blueprint is as follows:
- Don’t be historically bad
- Rock the trade deadline
- Find pitching
- See development from Christin Stewart
- Fix Joe Jiménez
- Stay healthy
- Make September fun
Possibly the most important item on the list is the first one, though the reward that comes with failing at that point would be a top draft pick — which is not the worst thing in the world. Dominating the trade deadline seems like a must for the rebuild, and while pitching staff has been decimated by injuries since the start of the season, do not expect much help from outside of the organization.
As for Christin Stewart, as featured in the Wednesday links post, he may already be turning that corner. Fixing Joe Jiménez may be a tall order at this point, as he just has not found his groove yet this season and has not shown many signs that that his success in the first half of last year is repeatable. Staying healthy is obvious, but seems to be a taxing task for the team so far in 2019. Lastly, making September fun is crucial for maintaining fanbase interest and creating some positive inertia going into the offseason.
More international signings
The Tigers inked contracts with four more international free agents on Thursday, bringing the grand total to twelve for the signing period so far. While these names are hardly recognizable, they represent future lottery tickets for an organization that is trying to rebuild from the inside out.
The Tigers today announced that they have agreed to terms on Minor League contracts with four players as part of the international signing period. pic.twitter.com/SlmeWJPe3u— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) July 4, 2019
SABR reviews the career of Bill Freehan
Speaking of snubs, former Tigers catcher Bill Freehan’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame rubs a lot of fans the wrong way — and for good reason. This biographical summary from SABR does a great job illustrating the personal and professional life of one of Detroit’s all-time greatest backstops, with plenty of citations for your extended viewing pleasure.
This exhaustive account of one of the heroes of the World Series-winning 1968 team — a season that saw him finish second to teammate Denny McLain in the American League Most Valuable Player voting — is a must-read for all Tigers fans.
The automated ball-strike system (ABS) will get a test run in the Atlantic League All-Star Game this coming Wednesday. The independent league serves as Major League Baseball’s sandbox for both clever and hairbrained ideas.
The Atlantic League announced they will roll out an automated ball-strike (ABS) system next Wednesday during their All-Star Game. There will still be a home plate umpire present to make non-pitch location calls. Part of MLB’s partnership w/ ALPB that allows ideas to be tested.— Andersen Pickard (@andersenreports) July 5, 2019
All Star game 10 minute history
With the impending MLB all-star game arriving next week, why not take ten minutes to freshen up on your history? Bless You Boys’ own Ashley McLennan provides all you need to know in this video.
Around the horn
A former Briggs Stadium batboy reminisces his days with the Tigers. Ely Hydes reveals the future of his Albert Pujols ball. Eno Saris asks, “Is the Home Run Derby curse real?” The 80th anniversary of a sportswriter calling Lou Gehrig soft and washed up. Last chance for the Yankees to win a championship this decade. Sports Illustrated ranks the top 10 home runs from 2019 so far. Take a look at the standings at the halfway point of the season. Baseball Prospectus has various anachronisms in this article.
Baseball is awesome: the box score edition
This is legitimately the most insane box score I've ever seen.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 4, 2019
The New York Yankees' Dominican Summer League scored 38 runs today. And that was with 26 runners left on base.
Behold the glory of the most runs ever scored in a pro game: https://t.co/ovO6GL7LFm
(h/t @hgomez27) pic.twitter.com/KU69CMgWOk