He watched the Tigers climb the standings after a dreadful April, putting together three consecutive winning months and now sitting in third place of the American League Central. He also saw the developments of Manning, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal — three rookie pitchers preparing to lead the franchise to the postseason in the future.
“Something special was happening,” Boyd said Saturday.
Boyd, 30, kept tabs on his squad from Lakeland because he was rehabbing from left arm discomfort. The injury forced him out of his June 14 start and sent him to the injured list. He returns Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park.
“I’m honored to be in the rotation with them and to take the ball alongside them,” Boyd said. “They’re really good. We’re a very good team and we have room to grow. We know that. We like where we’re at, but we’re not satisfied with it. We want to keep going forward. It’s exciting for us as a team.”
Before the injury, Boyd registered a 3.44 ERA with 19 walks and 56 strikeouts over 70⅔ innings in 13 starts. More importantly, the seven-year veteran was a leader in the clubhouse. The Tigers expect the left-hander to boost the club’s performance with 33 games remaining. (Boyd can help secure Detroit’s fourth winning month in a row.)
Although Boyd shies away from discussing his strengths, manager AJ Hinch didn’t hesitate.
“He was our Opening Day starter, and that still means something to us and certainly to him,” Hinch said. “He’s a great influence. When you’re away, you feel distant from the team. He has stayed in touch and watched a lot of games. I’ve had a number of texts between he and I after games with him locked in watching us from afar. That matters to me and means a lot to the players.
“He’s not unaware of how we’ve gotten to this date on the calendar. Matt can provide some innings for us. He can certainly boost a rotation that we’re going to be creative with moving forward. He’s a big presence on this club. He’s the center of attention on a lot of days. On the days he’s not, he’s offering his support.”
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During three rehab assignment starts for Triple-A Toledo, Boyd pitched 9⅓ scoreless innings. He allowed five hits — without issuing a walk — and racked up 11 strikeouts against the 31 batters he faced, giving him a 0.536 WHIP.
Now he’s ready to join the surging Tigers, 53-43 since May 8 and 22-16 since the All-Star break.
“You see young guys like Akil (Baddoo), Mize, Skubal and Manning,” Boyd said. “They’re in their rookie years and are at a point where they’re comfortable. Not in a negative way, but in a way that they walk around and carry themselves with confidence. You watch (Kyle) Funkhouser, he moves with confidence, knowing what he expects from himself. It’s impressive.”
All the details
CUTTING KROL: To bring back right-hander Jose Urena from the injured list for Saturday’s start, left-handed reliever Ian Krol was designated for assignment. He posted a 5.11 ERA, five walks and 10 strikeouts over 12⅓ innings this season. (The Tigers also released righty reliever Erasmo Ramirez, who was designated for assignment Friday.)
ON THE FARM: Double-A Erie catcher Dillon Dingler began his rehab assignment Saturday with Low-A Lakeland. The 22-year-old has been out since Aug. 6 with a fractured finger on his left hand. He is ranked No. 4 in the Tigers’ organization, according to MLB Pipeline.
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MR. RELIABLE: Right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Friday’s 2-1 win over the Blue Jays, becoming the first Tigers pitcher to reach 60 games in 2021. He has a 2.72 ERA, 25 walks and 59 strikeouts over 56⅓ innings.
“One of the things that was told to me when I got the job was this guy’s going to be able to throw any given day that you want,” Hinch said. “What I’m most impressed by is the fact that he can handle left-handed hitters. In an era where the three-batter rule exits and the leverage roles that we’ve created for these guys, he’s responded quite well and handled opposite-handed hitters. That’s going to turn him into a legit leverage reliever and not just someone who can throw every day.”
LOOKING TO THE OFFSEASON: On the topic of getting free agents to play for the Tigers in 2022 and beyond, Hinch said, “We’re going to re-establish ourselves as a winning franchise and develop a winning culture. If you want to be a part of it, then you’ll come. If you don’t, then we’ll beat you.”
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Matthew Boyd returns after Detroit Tigers develop during his injury
Source: Yahoo Sports