Boyd’s return gives Tigers’ pitching staff depth with some veteran leadership

So, the Tigers are bringing Matthew Boyd back to the team. It is a move that was predictable, decent and yet a bit puzzling.

Let’s get to the puzzling part first. The Tigers signed him for one year at $10 with a $1 million incentive clause. Boyd has never made more than $6.5 million a year, yet he soars to $10 million after undergoing flexon tendon surgery. Must be free agency can inflate one’s value.

Either way, the money isn’t a big issue as it likely will not affect what the Tigers do the rest of the way in the off-season. The real question is whether he is worth the risk. There seem to be more positive aspects of bringing him back than negatives.

First, the staff has been riddled with injuries, so depth has to be addressed. Boyd helps a lot in that area.

Second, the staff is young, and having a veteran with nearly 800 innings under his belt will give the younger pitchers a tested veteran to lead the way.

Third, he obviously loves Detroit and showed it last year when he pitched at Comerica Park for the Seattle Mariners. Detroit is not a popular destination for many major-leaguers right now.

Downside? Boyd brings a career ERA of 4.90, although his WHIP of 1.321 gives a more positive outlook. A rule of thumb says when ERA and WHIP tell different stories, trust WHIP. Why? For one, a relief pitcher will never affect WHIP one way or another.

Boyd is at the league average in strikeouts and better with walks. The low walk rate (7.5 percent, AL average in that time was 8.4) is a welcome addition to a team that has had some problems in that area.

Boyd will be healthy and hungry, and he will be happy to be back in Detroit. He likely will slot into the rotation, and it would not be a shock to see him on the mound on Opening Day, although Eduardo Rodriguez should be in the mix for that as well.

Just don’t expect excellence. Boyd will have his solid outings, and he will give up the long ball. He led the American League in home runs allowed in each of his last two seasons with the Tigers – and that came in a home ballpark that is not conducive to home runs.

Give the move a B-, a little better than average. It should not move the win-loss bar much on the surface, but the veteran presence on the staff should be a help to the younger pitchers, even though the cost might have been a bit high.

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