Detroit Tigers’ Matthew Boyd, Matt Manning take lessons from loss
Lakeland, Florida – Baseball is fascinating on so many levels, even in an otherwise sleepy mid-camp Grapefruit League game like the Tigers 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Joker Marchant Stadium on Monday.
Before the game, manager AJ Hinch was asked what he would expect from the left Matthew Boyd, who was making his third start of the spring.
“Hit the strike zone and attack with fastballs,” said Hinch. “Leverage is very important to him because he can expose it to so many pitches. I would love to see him play ahead (on the count) and aggressively with fastballs. “
Hinch’s argument that Boyd is playing with leverage and leading the way in counting is spot on. In 2019, Boyd reset the count (0-1, 0-2, 1-2) to 283 batters and the count to 227. Opponents hit with an OPS of 0.436 to 0.158 when he had leverage. .324 with an OPS of 1.127 if the striker had leverage.
In 2020, Boyd was behind more than twice as often as before – 253 record appearances behind, 100 upfront – as his 6.71 ERA reflected. When he had leverage, opponents hit with an OPS from 0.787 to 0.253; When the thugs had the advantage, they hit with 1.20 OPS .333.
So Boyd goes into play on Monday against a young, aggressive Blue Jays line-up eager to establish his fastball. First batsman, Jonathan Davis discharges on a 94-mile fastball, exit speed 105 mph, 407-foot home run. Next batsman, Teoscar Hernandez, first pitch fastball, flyout to the right, but with an exit speed of 101 mph.
The third batsman, Rowdy Tellez, hits Willi Castro, who has been moved to the right, almost into the right field with a bullet at 113 mph. Somehow, Castro blocked it and made the game first. In the second inning, Santiago Espinal drilled a single exit speed of 100 mph.
Time to abandon the original plan? Not exactly.
“I wouldn’t say the fastball wasn’t good,” said Boyd. “I just think it was their game plan. These are big league hitters who swung three or four fastballs in first place. They went out to attack the fastball. And it is our job to counteract that. “
That’s exactly what Boyd and catcher Wilson Ramos did. Boyd started his slider and switch combo, sending eight of the last nine hits he has faced. He only used one fastball in a clean 13-pitch third inning. But they didn’t scrap the fastball.
With the Blue Jays getting used to the breaking balls and the off-speed stuff, Boyd pulled his fastball out of its sheath. He ended his day beating Espinal on three fields, the last time on a fastball in the zone.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Boyd. “This type of spring game can be really useful as it is very realistic about what will happen in a (regular season game). You get out there, make adjustments, and keep moving forward. “
Boyd tossed 13 of the 15 batters he faced on first strike – and won his lever. He allowed only one deserved run and hit four, running his four innings in 60 pitches.
“I felt really good,” said Boyd. “I wouldn’t concentrate too much on my fastball. They are good players and tried to get into fastball early. But the effectiveness showed later that fourth inning when I threw a couple of fastballs and the guys were below that and were late to break the balls. “
Ramos may have experienced déjà vu in the fifth inning when the Blue Jays stole three bases and got big jumps from Tiger’s Pitching Prospect Matt Manning.
“He has to work on that,” said Ramos afterwards. “As catchers, we need help from the jugs. This has happened to me at the Mets for the past two years. They have a big problem keeping runners.
“When I see this, I’ll be able to speak to him.”
Ramos, who kicked out an average of 39% of runners who tried to steal between 2014 and 2016, kicked out just 23 out of 145 (16%) in his two seasons with the Mets.
Blue Jays fast midfielder Forest wall stole the second and third in the fifth. His lead over second place was so great that Ramos didn’t even bother to throw in third place. Later Jonathan Davis stole the second pretty easily and got another big crack.
“It’s a learning curve for (Manning), but he’s so athletic that it will be easy for him to learn,” said Hinch. “It’s one of the many things you see from these younger players who weren’t able to field in a competitive environment last year.
“You miss a year, you miss a year with some little things on the verge that are really very important. It didn’t really surprise me as he didn’t have a pitch. But it’s an obvious lesson for him. “
Manning bent down but did not break. In the end, he allowed three hits and walked but no runs with two strikeouts in his two innings. His fastball ranged from 94 to 97 mph and he threw nine sliders, which for him is a rapidly evolving weapon.
Long way back
Right handed Franklin PerezWhen the Tigers had the best prospect in the Houston Justin Verlander deal, he threw 20 pitches in his two-thirds of an inning. He got his fastball to 90 mph (he hit 91.7 once), but it’s clear it will be a long way back from where he was before missing out on most of two years with shoulder injuries .
“It’ll be a slow climb to get him back where he’s supposed to be,” said Hinch. “But as long as he is climbing, we will continue to develop and move forward. He doesn’t have to throw 95-97 now.
“He is healthy and we will continue to challenge him to see if he can take another step forward.”
Hinch got him out after recording his second hit in the inning (after two runs were scored). Not only did it make it easier for non-roster left-handers Miguel Del Pozo‘s first game action, but Hinch allowed Perez to walk away on a positive note.