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Detroit vs. Seattle Preview: Bad Boyd is back

After a strong April, it has been a tough crash back down to earth for Matthew Boyd.

MLB: JUN 01 Tigers at Brewers Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Tigers entered the season with some real question marks from the rotation, but the results have been surprisingly decent so far. Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal have shown plenty of promise, Jose Ureña has been fairly serviceable, and Spencer Turnbull leads the team with a 2.88 ERA in part due to his no-hitter.

Matthew Boyd could be considered part of the success story as well with his 3.90 ERA, which would be an improvement over his past few seasons and perhaps a sign of him finally turning the corner. However, it has really been a tale of two months for the once-presumed ace; his 2.27 April ERA has turned into an ugly 6.08 ERA in five starts since, delineated by a minor knee injury.

This story is all too familiar for Boyd, even disregarding the knee issue that caused him to leave a start early and miss a trip through the rotation. His 2.66 ERA from April-May 2019 was followed up by a 5.67 ERA the rest of the way, and a 6.71 ERA last season was more of the same. Sure, earned runs are not the only — or best — way to measure a pitcher’s value, but for Boyd there is not much else that needs to be said at this point.

Detroit Tigers (24-35) at Seattle Mariners (30-31)

Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Lookout Landing
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Matthew Boyd (2-6, 3.90 ERA) vs. LHP Marco Gonzales (1-3, 5.01 ERA)

Game 100 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Alexander 33.1 12.9 5.7 4.32 0.2
Kikuchi 65.0 25.1 13.9 5.81 -0.5

Marco Gonzales just came back from the injured list last week after missing the entire month of May with a forearm issue. It is tough to draw too much from his limited play this season, but after opening the year surrendering 12 runs over 10 13 innings, he has given up just six runs in 22 innings since. Of course, only four of those innings are after returning from the IL, so it is unclear what exactly to expect Tuesday.

The former first-round pick has been solid over the past few seasons, posting a 4.00 ERA in 2018 and a 3.99 ERA in 2019, and he was very good with a 3.10 ERA last year. He might not strike out a ton of batters, but he has historically been effective at limiting damage. The biggest indicator of things going poorly right now is his 16.0 percent barrel rate in 2021. The Tigers could benefit from catching him at the right time just coming back from injury.

Key matchup: Boyd vs. getting it back

The past few years, Boyd’s issues have been largely attributable to home runs allowed, though that trend seemed to have reversed to start the season. However, last time out he surrendered three dingers in under five innings against Milwaukee, and he is suddenly allowing 2.16 HR/9 over his past four outings. Keeping that trend up is the surest way to end anything positive he had going.