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Detroit Tigers News: Matthew Boyd resurrects his curveball and other news

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Joe Jiménez has been anointed as closer while Lloyd McClendon’s legacy lingers on.

MLB: FEB 29 Spring Training - Tigers at Yankees (ss) Photo by /Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Spring training is just a bit over halfway finished and as opening day nears many of the narratives of the past few weeks steadily come into focus. However, sometimes the storylines will throw a curveball with an unexpected emergence of a new wrinkle in the events as they unfurl. In this case, it is literally a curveball pitch that is making the latest waves.

Matthew Boyd has unquestionably become the ace of the Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff thanks in large part to hard work and diligence, which has made him the darling of the media this spring. Among the many things that the industrious lefty has done to continue elevating his stock is the reintroduction of his curveball.

After experimenting with a sinker and vacillating with his changeup usage last summer, Boyd went back to the drawing board and resurrected his other breaking ball, which he had all but abandoned the past two seasons. The revamped pitch appears to have more depth and feel than what he offered last season in comparison to a small sample size this spring, but if Boyd can make it work, he could very well take his game to the next level in 2020.

Joe Jiménez gets the nod for closer role

On the topic of pitching, manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed on Tuesday that Joe Jiménez will be the Tigers’ primary closer for this coming season. While the news comes as a surprise to very few with him arriving at Tigertown with the inside track, his performance in Lakeland these first few weeks has done little to hurt his case.

So far this spring, Jiménez has pitched in five games throwing five scoreless innings, giving up three hits, two walks and striking out four in 19 batters faced for an even 1.00 WHIP. Hopefully, he can carry his current success over into the regular season.

Rotochamp’s look at the Tigers’ opening day roster

Taking a more general view of what can be expected on opening day, the website RotoChamp has team projections for the Detroit Tigers posted, including starting lineups and division standings. The bad news is that the Motor City Kitties are picked to finish last in the AL Central with a 67-95 record — one game behind Kansas City.

The less-bad news is that the starting lineup actually looks fairly decent in comparison to last year’s debacle. Cameron Maybin leads off playing outfield, followed by Niko Goodrum at shortstop, Miguel Cabrera in the designated hitter slot, C.J. Cron at first base, Jonathan Schoop at second base, Jeimer Candelario at third base, Christin Stewart in the outfield, Austin Romine at catcher and Victor Reyes batting ninth and playing outfield.

The starting rotation is listed as Matthew Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Ivan Nova, Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull, with Tyler Alexander as the sixth starter and Michael Fulmer awaiting on the 60-day IL.

The legacy of Legendary Lloyd

One of the greatest weaknesses of Tigers teams of the past few years has been at the plate, which completely bottomed out last year as the team reached historic marks for offensive futility. Many among the fans and the media have looked at now-former hitting coach Lloyd McClendon as a scapegoat for the dearth of production from some of the younger position players coming up from the farm.

For a while, there was little evidence to link McClendon to the failures of many of his pupils, but this article by Jules Posner published at Forbes takes a deeper look into the swings of two players and comes away with some indicting data. Simply put, the approach Lloyd and the organization have taken with hitters like Candelario and Stewart has caused more harm than help, and there is little to suggest that the coaching is effectively customized to each individual. The article is very well worth reading in its entirety, as the analysis is both straightforward and well-researched.

Women’s History Month tidbit

Not-so-fun fact

Major sports clubhouses closed due to coronavirus fears

Base hits

Around the horn

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