Thanks to sites like Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, we have access to nearly every baseball statistic imaginable. That information comes in handy when analyzing performance, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture. Professional athletes are human too, and can be affected by outside influences just like you or I.
One such influence is the trade deadline, and the stress that public rumors can bring. While players do their best to not let the uncertainty of these rumors affect them, worrying about where you will be playing — and where your family will be living — in the coming weeks and days can be a stressful experience, especially when you have zero control over this outcome.
Did the rumors swirling around a potential trade affect Matthew Boyd over the past several weeks? It’s impossible to know. His statistical performance since the start of June — specifically, the home run troubles — certainly provides a compelling narrative. But those homer issues are nothing new for Boyd, so there’s no telling how (or if) the pending deadline weighed on him at all.
Should Boyd continue to pitch well, those rumors won’t go away. But for the next two months, at least, he’s a Detroit Tiger. Here’s hoping he goes out and dominates some more.
Detroit Tigers (32-73) at Texas Rangers (55-54)
Time/Place: 8:05 p.m., Globe Life Park in Arlington
SB Nation site: Lone Star Ball
Media: Fox Sports Detroit, fuboTV, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (6-8, 3.94 ERA) vs. RHP Adrian Sampson (6-8, 5.32 ERA)
Game 107 Pitching Matchup
For a while, the Rangers were threatening to crash the American League playoff party, and Adrian Sampson was a big reason why. The unheralded righthander put up a 3.58 ERA in 27 2⁄3 April innings, and managed a 4.16 ERA as late as the end of June. Our friends at Lone Star Ball identified him as one of the reasons for the team’s early season success prior to a late June series at Comerica Park, as he has thrown some important innings for a club that came into the season relying on others who have not performed up to snuff (including former Tiger Drew Smyly).
Unfortunately for Sampson (and the Rangers), teams seem to have figured him out. He gave up seven runs in just 3 1⁄3 innings in his first start of July, and has given up at least five runs in each of his last three appearances. All told, he surrendered 23 runs on 32 hits in just 19 2⁄3 innings last month.
Sampson’s arsenal is rather limited. His fastball averages 92-93 miles per hour, and he ramps it up as high as 95 mph. He throws it roughly 60 percent of the time, and relies heavily on his slider (32 percent) as his main secondary offering. Opponents are only hitting .220 against the slider, but have managed seven home runs and a .213 ISO against it, hinting at a propensity for mistakes. Sampson also features a changeup in the high-80s, which he uses primarily (and to ill effect) against lefties. Oddly, righties have hit him much harder overall this year, managing a .984 OPS in 264 plate appearances.
Key matchup: Boyd vs. his home run troubles
Boyd reined things in after a homer-rific June, allowing just five home runs in his five July starts. Better yet, he has only given up three in his four starts after the All-Star break. However, even though Boyd’s road home run splits are a bit better than what he has allowed at Comerica Park this season, the reverse has been true lately. He has given up nine home runs in his last 39 2⁄3 innings on the road, or just over two per nine innings. The Rangers also roughed him up in their last meeting, launching three home runs in a 4-1 loss at Comerica Park on June 26.
And while Globe Life Park isn’t quite the launchpad it used to be, it’s still more hitter and homer friendly than most venues.
Boyd runs into homer trouble again and the Tigers drop their second straight game.