MATTHEW Robert BOYD
Image of Matty B
Nickname:   Matty B Position:   LHP
Home: N/A Team:   TIGERS
Height: 6' 3" Bats:   L
Weight: 235 Throws:   L
DOB: 2/2/1991 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 48  
Birth City: Bellevue, WA
Draft: Blue Jays #6 - 2013 - Out of Oregon State Univ.
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2013 FSL DUNEDIN   3 10 7 11 3 2 0 0 0 0 2   5.40
2013 MWL LANSING   5 14 7 12 1 3 0 0 0 0 1   0.64
2014 EL NEW HAMPSHIRE   10 42.2 55 44 13 10 0 0 0 1 4   6.96
2014 FSL DUNEDIN   16 90.2 65 103 20 16 1 0 0 5 3   1.39
2015 IL TOLEDO   1 2 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2015 IL BUFFALO   6 39 32 37 6 6 0 0 0 3 1   2.77
2015 EL NEW HAMPSHIRE   12 73.2 39 70 18 12 0 0 0 6 1   1.10
2015 AL BLUE JAYS   2 6.2 15 7 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 0.441 14.85
2015 AL TIGERS   11 50.2 56 36 19 10 0 0 0 1 4 0.29 6.57
2016 AL TIGERS   20 97.1 97 82 29 18 0 0 0 6 5 0.258 4.53
2016 IL TOLEDO   11 64 53 57 18 11 0 0 0 2 5   2.25
2017 IL TOLEDO   8 51 35 53 13 8 1 0 0 3 3   2.82
2017 AL TIGERS $544.00 26 135 157 110 53 25 1 1 0 6 11 0.291 5.27
2018 AL TIGERS $562.00 31 170.1 146 159 51 31 0 0 0 9 13 0.228 4.39
2019 AL TIGERS $2,600.00 32 185.1 178 238 50 32 0 0 0 9 12 0.247 4.56
Personal
  • Boyd is a distant relative of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller and former first lady Dolly Madison. He has a poster in his bedroom of a picture of Feller pitching against Joe DiMaggio.

  • Boyd graduated from Eastside Catholic High School in Mercer Island, Washington, then accepted a baseball scholarship to Oregon State, majoring in communications.

  • Matt is a very giving young man. He has spent much time volunteering in the community while in high school and college, including serving as a leader at a Vacation Bible School. He spent time on a missionary trip to the Dominican Republic. Boyd was a camp leader for the Mercer Island Little League offseason workouts. He has also volunteered by building bikes for Forgotten Children's Fund.

  • In 2012, the Reds chose Matt in the 13th round of the draft, but he did not sign, returning to Oregon State for his senior year.

  • In 2012, Matt pitched for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League.

  • Boyd says his favorite athlete is Ken Griffey, Jr.

  • Matt's favorite TV shows are MLB Tonight, Entourage and Family Guy and favorite movies are The Sandlot and Bull Durham. (2014)

  • Boyd said he would be playing hockey if he wasn't a baseball player. He actually played almost 12 years of ice hockey before focusing on baseball. He was a defenseman for 10 and a left winger for two, and made the U.S. Development Program regional team.

    But baseball was his first love. And in his sophomore year at Eastside Catholic High in Mercer Island, Wash., he abandoned the skates to concentrate on baseball.

    Boyd, a lefthander, headed to Oregon State and helped the Beavers reach the 2013 College World Series. Then was drafted by the Blue Jays in the sixth round.

  • Boyd pitched a shutout at the College World Series, fanning 11 Indiana State Hooisers in a 1-0 win and was named to the John Olerud Watch List for the best two-way college players.

  • In 2015, Baseball America had Boyd as the 29th-best rated prospect in the Blue Jays organization.

  • During the offseason before 2015 spring training, Matt worked with a weighted ball program for the first time.

  • Matt has been in the Major Leagues for the better part of the last two seasons, but August 8, 2016 marked his first trip as a professional player to his favorite stadium.

    Boyd was born in Bellevue, Wash., and grew up on Mercer Island, which is about a five-minute drive down Interstate 90 from the Safeco Field players' parking lot. He pitched at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, where he appeared in one game at Safeco. And he closed out a college game at Safeco as a sophomore for Oregon State, beating the University of Washington.

    Boyd, who's looking for an offseason home in the area, said his experiences at the ballpark go back many years, even before he was a player. He said his father, Kurt, surprised then-8-year-old Matt with a ticket to the second game in the history of Safeco Field in 1999, and that he and his high school buddies used to take the bus from Mercer Island to downtown Seattle for Mariners games. They'd buy the only seats they could afford.

    "Center field was the cheapest," Boyd said. "We'd sneak into the left-field bleachers, and by about the sixth inning we'd be down in the lower concourse. A lot of special memories here."

    There might be more to come. Boyd isn't scheduled to pitch in the upcoming three-game series, but there's Mariners history everywhere he looks. The field still is emblazoned with the just-retired No. 24 of Boyd's favorite player ever, Ken Griffey Jr. And another of Boyd's childhood heroes, Edgar Martinez, is the Mariners' hitting coach.

    Boyd said he's never met Martinez but that "it'd be a dream if I did.  I'll see if I can get an autograph from him," he said.  (Miller - MLB.com - 8/8/16)

  • Boyd and Michael Conforto both grew up in Washington and were roommates at Oregon State. They also work out together in the off-season.

  • Matthew is now a father, after he and his wife, Ashley, welcomed their first child, Meira Joy Boyd, on July 27, 2017. It was an off-day, which provided them a perfect opportunity to celebrate the newest member of their family. (Horrobin - mlb.com - 7/27/17)

  • May 18, 2018: Matthew had passed out 38 tickets to family members. He had what he estimated were "40 or 50 more friends" around his hometown ballpark. They were presumably in on their own dime.  Then he took the mound and dazzled. Boyd had a career-high nine strikeouts in his first career start in his backyard. 

    Boyd, a native of Mercer Island across Lake Washington seven miles from Safeco Field, was smiling after having command issues with his fastball to begin the game. He fell behind 2-0 after Jean Segura's double and Mitch Haniger's RBI single in the third. Then Boyd relied more on his slider. He used that pitch at speeds of 79 to 84 mph for six of his nine strikeouts.

    He had tied his career high of eight Ks by the fourth inning.  "It was exciting," said Boyd, who pitched collegiately at Oregon State. "Everywhere I turned I saw someone I grew up with. It was just really nice to have all love. It was a special day."  (Bell - mlb.com)

  • In May 2018, Matthew and James McCann began preparing for their Memorial Day start together a few days ahead of time. Their prep work had very little to do with the Angels on the lineup card they were expecting.

    When Boyd knew he was on track to start the Memorial Day game, he wanted it to be about more than pitching at Comerica Park on a holiday afternoon. So he talked last week with Jordan Field, director of the Detroit Tigers Foundation, about how to honor those for whom the holiday is.

    "This day's about honoring those who have served their country and lost their life defending this country," Boyd said after the 9-3 win, "defending our freedom so we can have liberties like playing baseball this day, worshipping our religions freely, and being in an awesome country. I just didn't want that to be lost by the wayside. They gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. The least we can do is honor them." 

    Field got in touch with TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, and received names of local servicemembers who lost their lives over the past year. "We got eight names of fallen soldiers from the area," McCann said.

    Boyd and McCann took four names each, and wrote them on the special cleats they wore for the game.  "I feel very blessed to be able to play a game for a living, and [for] the freedoms that we have here," McCann said. "The freedom to do that, and just being able to honor the fallen, the people that paid the ultimate sacrifice. One day doesn't seem like enough." 

    Boyd's family has a deep military background. His father, Kurt, went into the Navy as a teenager and served six years before attending the University of Washington. His grandfather, John, graduated from the Naval Academy. Matthew had eyes on playing baseball for Navy or West Point, but had to change his plans due to asthma.

    "I'm the first male [in the family] not to serve in quite a long time," Boyd said. "I'm grateful for everything that everyone has done to serve and defend our country."

    His baseball career continues to work out quite well. On Memorial Day 2018, he continued what is becoming a breakout season by shutting down a righty-heavy Angels offense, the kind of lineup — including righthanded sluggers Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and former Tiger Justin Upton — that would've taken its swings on him a year ago.

    Though Boyd (3-4) had to work with a runner on base every inning, he held the Angels to a pair of singles and two runners in scoring position, overcoming three walks over five-plus scoreless frames.  (Beck - mlb.com - 5/28/18)

    CHARITY WORK IN UGANDA

  • Boyd and his wife Ashley have been trying to provide help on the other side of the world. They hope that by helping open a children's home in Uganda and starting a charitable foundation, they can help address a problem that has gone underpublicized on this side of the world.

    "We have 35 girls in a home right now in Uganda ages 8-14 that have been rescued either from prostitution rings, a brothel, forced child marriages, unfortunate things," Boyd said. "Right now we're going through the 501(c) process of getting our application approved in the state of Michigan and Washington so we can start fundraising, getting the word out there for this."

    Boyd and his wife have been looking for a way to use their position to make a difference off the field. Ashley earned her degree in political science from Oregon State, and has worked with a nonprofit called Remember Nhu, which aims to prevent child trafficking and sex slavery through grassroots work around the world. They have 85 prevention homes in 15 countries on four continents, but saw a need for a home in Uganda.

    The Boyds, especially after becoming parents last year, felt this was a calling for them. They traveled to Thailand together a few years ago and met a child they've sponsored. "You get face to face and you realize: How can anyone hurt a child? How can anyone do anything so horrific to a child? It's unbearable to think about," Boyd said. "Being a father, I can't quantify it, knowing that there's people out there that need help."

    The home they've set up provides a bed, food and education, Boyd said

    "Hopefully we can provide for further education, college over there," Boyd said. "We never want to age out a child. That's our goal."

    While Ashley went to Africa as part of her work with Remember Nhu, Matthew has never been to the continent. "We're feeling called to serve in this way right now, and it's pretty cool," he said. (J Beck - MLB.com - June 30, 2018)

  • Nov 21, 2018: Matthew and Ashley Boyd are in Uganda, checking out the home they've helped put together with their hearts. When the Tigers pitcher and his wife heard about a couple in Uganda who had rescued 36 girls ages 6-14 from forced marriages, prostitution rings and human trafficking and needed help, they felt it was their calling.

    Ashley Boyd had worked for a nonprofit called Remember Nhu, which fights child trafficking and sex slavery around the world. Matthew Boyd had been hoping to use his security as a professional athlete to contribute to a worthy cause. Starting their own nonprofit to support a home for rescued children was a major undertaking, maybe bigger than their initial ambitions. But this, they felt, was their cause.

    "Starting our own nonprofit was beyond my wildest dreams," Ashley Boyd said. "It wasn't something we were ever really looking to do. It kind of came to us."

    After putting plans together half a world away, they now have a chance to see their work up close. The Boyds will spend just over a week in Uganda, where they'll check out the home and explore the possibility of opening others to help more children in need. It'll be Matthew's first trip to Africa; Ashley traveled there as part of her work with Remember Nhu. The goal is to not only provide the children with a safe place, food and clothing, but to provide education and training as they grow up to help them become influencers in their community and end the cycle of abuse.

    "Our goal at Kingdom Home is to provide refuge for these girls, a safe place," Matthew Boyd said, "to provide them food, clothing, a bed, an education. It's our goal to never age a child out. We want to give them vocational training, or pay for university, and hopefully prepare them for the world in whatever they want to do."

    They've formed a partnership with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities, and have received pledges of support from teammates James McCann, Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene. They've also donated $100,000 of their own money.

    People interested in helping can do so at kingdomhome.org. (J Beck - MLB.com - Nov 21, 2018)

  • Dec 21, 2018: A year ago, the Boyds experienced Christmas as parents for the first time. A few weeks ago, they felt like they became parents of three dozen other children. "Our family's big," Matthew Boyd said, "and it's across the globe now." That's what it has meant for them to not only create Kingdom Home, which serves as a home in Uganda for 36 girls rescued from child trafficking and other life-threatening situations, but to see their work first-hand.

    They took on the challenge of creating a nonprofit organization during the season after hearing of a couple who had rescued the girls and taken them into their home, but who needed help after the husband passed away. The Boyds put $100,000 of their own money into the project and teamed up with the Detroit Tigers Foundation, an affiliate of Ilitch Charities. They also received pledges from Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Drew VerHagen and then-Tiger James McCann. With a foundation in place, making a visit was the next step. It took three flights and a seven-hour drive on narrow clay roads across the Kenyan border, but the arduous journey felt like nothing once they arrived.

    "It was really, really cool," Boyd said. "It was so special to be there, be present, actually be in front of the girls. Not that it wasn't real before, but it really puts it to a whole new level, just interacting with them and with Dorothy, the housemother, having them braid Ashley's hair over and over." Though Christmas was still weeks away, the Boyds brought gifts. Between donations from Adidas and a nonprofit called Soles4Souls, they had enough new shoes for each child and then some, along with new clothes. "Some of these kids hadn't had new shoes for a long time, and now they had two pairs," he said. "Just seeing their joy for just little things that you take for granted, it was so cool." They put the shoes to use quickly, kicking around a soccer ball and journeying around the village to get an idea of the surroundings they were in. 

  • "You hear how it's a developing country, and you think you know what a developing country means. But until you actually experience it, it doesn't really take hold," Boyd said. "So playing with a soccer ball, we actually broke the tap, and it was the only tap in the house. So we had to go down to the well, and it was the only place for water. "One thing that just stood out was the village that we were in. The village, it's out there and away from one of the bigger towns. The yard is walled off, but the kids in the village saw how much fun our girls were having and they came to the wall and watched. And you want to help them, but they have families and food for them."

    Boyd had started his offseason throwing program before they left home, so he had to keep working out. Finding a catching partner in a region where baseball isn't a common sport was another challenge.

    "I got to play catch with two of our guides. I taught them baseball; they were pretty athletic," he said. "I brought an extra glove; we tossed it around a little bit. It was a lot of fun."

    More than anything, though, the Boyds were amazed by the determination of the girls to forge their own futures. Part of the goal of Kingdom Home is to help at-risk children become productive members of a community through education and vocational training. "They're so respectful, and they study so hard," he said. "They have a vision of the future, and they want to do amazing things. I knew that they were like that, but they were so far and beyond."

    The home, yard and all, is rented. Part of the purpose of the trip was for Matthew and Ashley to check out land, either for an additional home or to replace the one they have. They found a site, he said, where they could potentially build four homes to help more children. They're now working on fundraising events to help them get there — one possibly in Spring Training in the Tampa area, another during the season in metro Detroit. Boyd said Big League Impact, a foundation created by Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, is helping them put it together.

    Heading back home was emotional, Boyd said, but they're already hoping to schedule a return trip next offseason, ideally bringing along some donors to see the work themselves. In the meantime, as they return to the comforts of home and family, the experience reshaped their vision of the holiday season.

    "You really appreciate what you have," Boyd said. "We have clean water, and we have a roof over our heads, and we know where our next meal is coming from. I'm grateful for family. I'm grateful for friends and neighbors. That being said, I'm grateful we have this opportunity to change lives.

    "We had a Christmas event there. We sang Christmas carols there. It's so good knowing our girls are going to be able to sleep in their own beds, and they're going to have three meals and have an education. And they know they're loved; that's the biggest thing." (J Beck - MLB.com - Dec 21, 2018)

  • Feb 8, 2019: Boyd stepped onto one of the many mounds at the back fields of the Tigertown complex, threw his latest bullpen session, hit one of the training fields briefly, then retreated to the training room for his scheduled post-throw workout. By the time he was done, his morning was nearly over. While training, Boyd's movement is tracked, recorded, and stored on a bracelet he wears. The info is sent back across the country, where a performance coach analyzes the data, looking for trends and putting together a workout plan with Boyd for the upcoming week.

    What began as a plan to optimize what Boyd eats has become a complete routine covering everything from nutrition to sleeping patterns, between-start workouts to recovery plans.

    "It's to feel great all the way through, just to be the best I can for my team from Day 1 until the last day," Boyd said. "If I'm at my best, I can put my team in the best position. Last year, I realized there's more I can get better at." Last year was the first full season Boyd spent in the Tigers' rotation. He led the team with 31 starts and 170 1/3 innings, and finished with a 9-13 record, 4.39 ERA and a 4.45 FIP. He had a 4.08 ERA in mid-September before two rough outings inflated his numbers.

    Though the rough finish raised the question of fatigue, Boyd says he felt fine. He lost focus, he said, while his grandmother was gravely ill in September, before passing away after the season ended. Still, Boyd was looking for ways to improve heading into 2019. He spent much of his previous offseason working on his pitches. This offseason, he focused on his health. Boyd has worked out every winter near home at Athletic Training Institute in Bellevue, Wash., alongside fellow Major Leaguers James Paxton and Michael Conforto. When the facility hired Devin McKee as a health performance coach, Boyd met him at season's end.

    "I've eaten clean the last few years. I've read about how different foods affect your brain. I've done intermittent fasting, things like that," Boyd said. "I've invested in some machines that help recovery. At that point, I was like, 'OK, I really want to take this to the next level.'" Boyd underwent DNA tests to determine what foods his body reacts to better and what health conditions he might be predisposed to genetically. He had his heart rate and other vitals tracked to determine workout recovery and optimal sleeping patterns.

    Some changes were obvious, others more individualized. With help from McKee, Boyd adjusted his diet to take in more monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and grass-fed beef. He cut out whole grains and pasta and added more vegetables. He added more fish to his diet. He also tracked when and where he ate his meals. The resulting changes helped Boyd drop 15 pounds and improve his body-fat percentage.

    "I wasn't planning on losing weight. I felt good where I was," Boyd said. "But once I started eating the way I did, it just kind of happened. I don't see it, but everyone says you can see it. That wasn't the goal, but it was kind of a byproduct. … "I feel better. I have more energy. I'm sleeping better."

    Beyond that, McKee and Boyd used data to look at how he recovered from workouts, how soundly he slept, his energy levels and movements, his exposure to light and his circadian rhythm to optimize a schedule around his daily cycle, pitching days and travel during a season.

    Boyd is far from the first routine-oriented pitcher the Tigers have had. His former teammate, Justin Verlander, was meticulous in formulating a routine and sticking to it, down to the minute, leading into a start. The data and feedback provide another step in the process.

    "We monitor all that," Boyd said. "It's something that's really kinda cool and hands-on. We break it down every week. [McKee is] another guy that I'm going to have in my corner to help me recover and hopefully pitch 200-plus innings this year."

    Boyd has a Spring Training routine he's following now. With data from the bracelet and his own observations, he and McKee put together a regular-season schedule. Still, as the father of a young child who wakes up during the night and early in the morning, there are some variables he'll never control.

    "With a little kid, it's hard," Boyd said. "I don't want to make it sound like I'm the one always waking up. My wife is the one who does a lot of the work, because I probably sleep a little too heavy. Spring Training's easy because we're waking up early. In the season, I'm sure there'll be some trial and error. There'll be some adapting, because I'm daddy first and husband first." (J Beck - MLB.com - Feb 8, 2019)

  • Matthew was tied for the highest Wins Above Replacement among American League pitchers on May 17, 2019, according to FanGraphs. But that’s not a fair way to measure his overall value.

    To the baseball world, Boyd is enjoying a breakout season thanks to a huge uptick in his strikeout rate. To the at-risk kids at Kingdom Home in Uganda, Boyd and his wife Ashley are helping change lives and break the chain of sex trafficking in the African country by providing girls with a safe place to live and learn.

    Their work on the latter has greatly expanded this year, from helping 36 girls in one home to helping close to 90 children. They want to help more. 

    “We recently expanded and we’re able to take on more homes,” Matthew said. “So with that, our goals have expanded. The goals of this fundraiser are to raise $250,000 toward buying land and building on that piece of property to provide a safe, permanent place for these kids to grow up. We’re currently at $100,000, but that means we still have $150,000 to go.”

    It’s an amazing expansion for a project that began just under a year ago with a rented house and three dozen kids at risk. The goal is not only to provide the children a safe haven, but also an avenue to education so that they can find a career.

    “Kingdom Home is never going to age a child out,” Matthew Boyd said. “Right now, the oldest children in the home are 14 years old. As the years go on, whether they want to go to vocational training or university, Kingdom Home will just equip them to do whatever they want to do. The last thing we want to do is age a child out and put her at risk of going back into what was the whole goal of preventing in the first place.”

    The Boyds saw the work first-hand when they visited Uganda in the 2018 offseason. But they also saw the scale of the issue, and the number of additional kids they could help.

    “Getting to go and meet the girls in our first home was really impactful for us personally,” Ashley said. “But it also just spurred us on to want to help more children, because for every one in our home there’s countless others who are still at risk. That’s why we’re excited about upcoming events to help raise more funds so that we can be able to take in more children.”

    The property they’re eyeing, she said, has enough area to build six homes, housing 30-50 people each.  “We’ve already had an organization donate a well for the land,” Matthew said, “and another organization basically donate a whole farm, which is cool to make it sustainable. It’s really, really exciting for what’s to come.”  (Beck - mlb.com - 5/17/19)

  • May 20, 2019: Matthew Boyd stood in front of the gathering at his charity fundraiser at Topgolf, his little daughter, Meira, in one arm, a microphone in the other. He thanked the multitudes who bought tickets for an evening of golf, food and fun, as well as the nearly 20 teammates who joined him on their first off-day in two weeks. He talked about Kingdom Home and the plans he and his wife, Ashley, have in mind to help combat sex trafficking in Africa.

    All the while, he kept Meira in his arms as the little girl kept moving around, eventually handing her off to Ashley for a couple minutes. When the couple talked with reporters later, Meira was in his arms again, tugging at his Tigers jersey, poking at the pin-on microphone, chewing on her jacket. To his credit, Boyd didn’t miss a step, staying on topic the entire time. It was an apt symbol for his life these days.

    A year ago at this time, Matthew and Ashley were putting together plans for this project. Instead of simply giving money to help a widow in Uganda who had rescued 36 girls with her late husband, the Boyds took it a step further and gave their time and effort, creating a nonprofit organization to support the children and provide a better life through shelter, food and access to education.

    If somebody had told Matthew Boyd then that they’d have a nonprofit supporting 90 children and three homes with plans to buy land and build six homes—all while he and Ashley raise two kids of their own, and while he pitches some of the best baseball in the big leagues so far this season—he probably wouldn’t believe it. Not this quickly, anyway.

    “I think he’s just trusting the process,” said longtime teammate and friend, Daniel Norris. “He’s going about his work and doing what he can and wanting to fulfill his calling.”

    Ashley handles a lot of the work as executive director, Matthew said, and they’ve been blessed by God. His teammates say they’re special.

    “I remember hearing Matty and Ashley talk about it when they started it,” Daniel Stumpf said. “Just watching it grow to now, it’s expanding I think quicker than they expected, which is awesome. Being able to help out, they go over and help support these kids. It’s amazing.”

    Despite an unseasonably chilly evening, Monday’s effort packed the second floor of the Topgolf facility with supporters, teammates and current and former members of the Tigers organization. Some, like Blaine Hardy and Gordon Beckham, are good at golf. Others, like Norris and Josh Harrison, don’t normally hit the links or driving range, but they take their swings for good causes.

    “If you give me a putt-putt, it might be a different story,” Harrison said. “But if I have to drive it, good luck.

    As Harrison took his hacks, he was clearly having fun. But he was also impressed by what Boyd has put together.

    “A lot of people have a true desire and a heart to help and just don’t know how to go about doing it, especially starting early in their career,” Harrison said. “Kudos to Matt and Ashley for finding a way. They’ve gotten a good feel for the right people around them to help something that’s near and dear to them.”

    Other Tigers who took part included Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Jordan Zimmermann, John Hicks, Grayson Greiner, Spencer Turnbull, Buck Farmer, JaCoby Jones, Niko Goodrum, Christin Stewart and Nick Ramirez.

  • March 31, 2020: Matthew and his wife, Ashley, already have plenty to worry about at home with their two children as they try to stay safe in Michigan during the coronavirus pandemic. But they also have dozens more kids they’re concerned about, half a world away. Two years after the Boyds started Kingdom Home in Uganda to fight sex trafficking, the effort has grown from rescuing 36 girls to more than 150 kids, who live in four homes. The nonprofit takes them out of dangerous circumstances and provides food, lodging and education. Now they face a new risk with the worldwide spread of coronavirus.

    The first case in Uganda was reported last week. Like in many countries, the numbers are growing, and everything from schools to travel to food markets are reportedly restricted or shut down as part of the government response. Mercifully, the Boyds report, the virus has not hit the homes.

    “We have been in constant communication with our house parents regarding the safety and well-being of the children, and we are happy to report that they are all healthy and doing well, despite the circumstances,” the Boyds posted on the Kingdom Home Instagram account.

    “Now more than ever is the time to look out for each other. While we practice social distancing, we still have the ability to come together in a unique way—united as we share this common experience, and together trust that the Lord will carry us through this time and make us stronger because of it.

    “Please join us in praying for continued protection and peace over the entire Kingdom Home family in Uganda.

    While the health and well-being of the children and house parents are good for now, the pandemic and the reaction are causing additional expenses. The land they bought last year includes a well for drinking water and enough space for a hydroponic farm, but they still rely on markets for their food. The restrictions and closures of some markets have left them searching for alternatives to bring necessities to the homes.

    For more information or to help, visit kingdomhome.org. (J Beck - MLB.com - March 31, 2020)

  • The effort came together with the help of Big League Impact, an organization with a similar story. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright launched Big League Impact in 2013 with the idea of having a player across the Majors participate in an online fantasy football draft to raise money for their favorite charities. Today, the organization works with 30 Major League players to support campaigns ranging from clean water to food instability, single parenting, sustainability, farming, refugee relief and Boyd’s cause of fighting child sex trafficking.

    “It’s very inspiring,” Norris said. “We’re utilizing our platform for good, and that’s what it’s all about.”

    The Boyds have a goal of raising $250,000 to buy land and build three homes. They’ve raised $100,000 already. A recent fundraiser was expected to take a bite out of the remaining $150,000.

    “It’s pretty special that so many people, including teammates, want to help out,” Matthew Boyd said. “It means a ton. It’s pretty cool that they have a heart for this mission. So many of them have given, and they’ve helped out in so many ways.”

    Those who want to help can still make a donation or sponsor a child at kingdomhome.org.

    Said Ashley: “People need to realize that it’s not just and him, a big leaguer, that can make a difference. Everyone can make a difference. Anyone can volunteer their time or resources and give and really change a child’s life, whether it’s here in Detroit or in Uganda or wherever. This is a global issue, but we can end it.” (J Beck - MLB.com - May 20, 2019)

  • July 23, 2019: While Boyd posted eight strikeouts over six innings for the second consecutive start, and his fifth in a row fanning eight or more, he allowed his lowest run total since back-to-back scoreless performances at the end of May. As contending teams weigh where to value Boyd among the potential targets on the trade market, his ability to limit damage won’t go overlooked.

    For now, Boyd isn’t worrying about it, or much of anything beyond the birth of his second child, whom he and his wife Ashley are expecting later this summer.

    “It’s worrying about something we have zero control over,” Boyd said. “We’re having a kid in a month. I think the biggest thing, if I was going to worry, would be my wife’s health and my future son’s safety. Baseball’s pretty minimal compared to that.

  • Oct 17, 2019: Boyd has a history of struggles in his final start of a season. He also has a history of using that as a springboard to progress the next year. When he didn’t retire a batter in his final start of 2016 and didn’t pitch in the final week, he pushed himself to win a rotation spot out of Spring Training and beat out Aníbal Sánchez.

    When the Twins homered twice to beat Boyd in the final weekend of the 2017 season, saddling him with five runs over as many innings to bump his ERA to 5.27, he worked to make his slider into a more effective pitch in hopes of putting a full season together.

    After three homers over 3.2 innings in Minnesota closed out a rough September in 2018, Boyd changed everything from his diet to sleep routine to get in his best shape, while further honing his slider into a swing-and-miss pitch.

    So it made sense that, even as he wrapped up his best season to date, he wasn’t satisfied after four innings against the White Sox.

    “I said at the beginning of the year, it feels like last year was only the beginning,” Boyd said. “Just continue to grow and get better off that.”

    He has plenty of growth to look back on, as a pitcher and as a leader. He also has plenty more he wants to do.

  • What went right?

    The work Boyd put into his fitness and his pitching last offseason, 2018 paid big dividends. His four-seam fastball, which had dropped to an average velocity of 90.5 mph in 2018 according to Statcast, jumped to 92.1 mph this season while gaining 102 rpm on spin rate, making it a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch for him. He paired it with a sharp slider to create a devastating combination for hitters to handle.

    Never was that combination more effective than the first two months of the season, when Boyd led AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement and seemed headed for his first All-Star selection. He delivered quality starts in nine of his first 12 outings, striking out eight or more batters in six of them while picking up wins in five.

    Boyd averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, fourth best among AL starters, while ranking sixth in the league with 238 strikeouts. His walk rate dropped to 2.43 per nine innings, eighth lowest among qualified AL starters. His 185 innings made him the only Tigers pitcher to cross the 150-inning mark in 2019.

    While Boyd found his identify as a pitcher, he also found his voice in the clubhouse. When injuries to Tyson Ross, Matt Moore and Jordan Zimmermann left the Tigers' rotation without a veteran presence, Boyd became a voice of positive reinforcement.

    “That's what you take out of this season: We've got a positive leader out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He's the guy that goes around and talks with everybody else.

  • What went wrong? 

    Two words: Home runs.

    “He'll tell you that he got too many balls up toward the middle part of the plate and they hit them out,” Gardenhire said, “so he gave up too many home runs.”

    Boyd’s fastball-slider combination was good enough to comprise more than 85 percent of his pitch selection this past season, according to Statcast. Eventually, hitters caught up with that and sat on his fastball, which sent his home-run rate soaring.

    Boyd gave up just seven runs over 72 2/3 innings in his first 12 starts through the end of May, 2019. He yielded 29 home runs over 92 1/3 innings over his 16 starts from June through August. Some of that could be attributed to home-run rates soaring across baseball, but there was more to it with Boyd.

    “I had two months where my fastball command wasn't the same,” he said. “I wasn't walking people, but I wasn't commanding it like I know I can as I was in the months prior. The last few weeks we started to correct that, understanding how it is and where I need to be going forward.

  • Best moment:

    The Tigers’ hot start to the season became a distant memory by the end of their 114-loss season, but it included some of the best pitching of the year, including from Boyd. On a getaway day at Yankee Stadium, he racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts over 6.1 innings of one-run ball, pitching Detroit to a 2-1 win and a 4-3 record on the team’s season-opening road trip.

    “Matty had all his stuff going—his fastball, his slider and everything,” Gardenhire told reporters at the time. “He kept them off-balance. You could see that. What a great arm. Great stuff.

  • 2019 Season: The work Boyd put into his fitness and his pitching last offseason paid big dividends. His four-seam fastball, which had dropped to an average velocity of 90.5 mph in 2018 according to Statcast, jumped to 92.1 mph this season while gaining 102 rpm on spin rate, making it a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch for him. He paired it with a sharp slider to create a devastating combination for hitters to handle.

    Never was that combination more effective than the first two months of the season, when Boyd led AL pitchers in Wins Above Replacement and seemed headed for his first All-Star selection. He delivered quality starts in nine of his first 12 outings, striking out eight or more batters in six of them while picking up wins in five.

    Boyd averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings, fourth best among AL starters, while ranking sixth in the league with 238 strikeouts. His walk rate dropped to 2.4 per 9 innings, eighth lowest among qualified AL starters. His 185 innings made him the only Tigers pitcher to cross the 150-inning mark in 2019.

    While Boyd found his identify as a pitcher, he also found his voice in the clubhouse. When injuries to Tyson Ross, Matt Moore and Jordan Zimmermann left the Tigers' rotation without a veteran presence, Boyd became a voice of positive reinforcement.

    “That's what you take out of this season: We've got a positive leader out there,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He's the guy that goes around and talks with everybody else.” (Jason Beck - MLB.com - Oct, 17, 2019)

  • Nov. 7, 2019: In a season with precious few bright spots at Comerica Park, Boyd was one of the brightest. Thus, the left-hander earned the Tiger of the Year nod from members of the Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

    Boyd received 15 of 22 first-place votes. Miguel Cabrera finished second with three first-place nods. Boyd is the first pitcher other than Justin Verlander to win the award since Steve Sparks in 2001, and the first lefty hurler to win since John Hiller in 1973.

TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2013: The Blue Jays chose Boyd in the 6th round, out of Oregon State University. Matt signed before the deadline for a bonus of $75,000, via scout Ryan Fox.

  • July 30, 2015: The Blue Jays sent three lefthanded pitchers to the Tigers: Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt. Toronto received David Price.

  • Jan 11, 2019: Boyd and the Tigers avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal for $2.6 million.

  • Jan 10, 2020: Boyd and the Tigers avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal for $5.3 million.
Pitching
  • Boyd has an 89-94 mph 4-seam FASTBALL, an 88-92 mph 2-seam SINKER. Matt has a sweeping 85-88 mph SLIDER that he improved during 2016 spring training, He has a 74-76 mph CURVEBALL and an 80-83 mph CHANGEUP for righthanded hitters.

    While none of his secondary pitches grade out as a plus, all three can be at least average. His changeup shows swing-and-miss potential with late fade. The sharpness of his breaking ball has improved in pro ball. (Spring 2018)

  • In 2015, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "Boyd has kind of a riding fastball, good finish, gets a lot of fly balls, a lot of foul balls, even some swings and misses. He mixed in three off-speed pitches. At times, all of them are good."

  • 2016 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 36.2% of the time; Sinker 14.6% of the time; Change 20.9%; Slider 11.2%; Curve 12.2%; and Cutter 2.9% of the time. (Brooks Baseball)

    2017 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 39.3% of the time; Sinker 21.6% of the time; Change 15.7%; Slider 10.3%; and Curve 18.1% of the time. (Brooks Baseball)

    2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 38.8% of the time, his Sinker 10.1%; Change 7.7%; Slider 31.1%; and Curveball 12.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92 mph, Sinker 89.9, Change 79, Slider 81.1, and Curve 72.7 mph. But he gave up an AL-high 39 home runs.

    2019 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 50.8% of the time; Sinker 3.1%; Change 6%; Slider 34.9%; and his Curve 5.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 92.5 mph, Sinker 90.2, Change 79.5, Slider 80, and Curve 74.2 mph.

  • In 2014, Matt was called up to Double-A not long into the season, so he figured he needed to change things up due to the higher level of play and competition. After the season, soul-searching made him realize he just had to get back to what got him there, trust in his stuff.

    "I thought I could kind of re-create myself as a pitcher instead of just trusting my abilities and trusting in the preparation," Boyd said of his time with the Fisher Cats in 2014. "I have the talent to pitch here, but I didn't have the confidence to pitch here. I didn't trust my stuff. It's a brutally honest way to look at it.

    "This year (2015), along with being healthy, [confidence] has been a big difference. I'm just very grateful, very blessed for the opportunity. It's always the goal to go out there, put your best foot forward and trust the preparation you put in in the offseason. You always want to be the best when you're preparing for a season."

  • Boyd's delivery is high maintenance that remains funky and deceptive, but he repeats it well and overcomes a long arm action with wrap in the back. The fly-ball oriented Boyd is a competitor with the potential for above-average control. He has solid command. (Spring 2015)

  • Boyd profiles as a back-end starter or lefty reliever.

  • June 27, 2015: Boyd wasn't nervous, just excited. The Blue Jays' lefthander made his Major League debut, allowing four earned runs on nine hits over 6.2 innings, while striking out seven, in a 4-0 loss to the Rangers at Rogers Centre.  His seven strikeouts matched a Blue Jays record for a pitcher making his debut as a starter.

    "Definitely before that first pitch, when I get the ball back, I always just say a little prayer—and right after that, I kind of looked around. It was pretty surreal," said Boyd of his first big league start. "Getting to live my dream, all the years playing this game and working for it ... kind of came up to this point and it was just awesome. It was surreal, definitely."

    "I was hanging out and got the phone call. I was just with my wife [and] got the phone call later in the day. From there, we just drove the pickup [truck] up to Toronto," Boyd said. "I'm living out of a suitcase right now. I didn't have a place in Buffalo, either. [My wife and I are] living like nomads—living out of our pickup and suitcases, right now."

    Boyd's solid start caught the eye of Rangers manager Jeff Banister.

    "Their guy came out hot, had some adrenaline going and threw the ball very well. Not a bad outing for your first [start] in the big leagues," Banister said. "I'm sure he'd wish for a different outcome. But he kept some of our hitters off-balance and mixed in a breaking ball and fastball, and we were fortunate enough to get some pitches out over the plate that we were able to drive out of the ballpark." (D Mahiban - MLB.com - June 27, 2015)

  • The tweak that changed Matt's pitching came about by accident. He was laboring through a five-inning, 104-pitch outing against the Mets in August 2016 when his arm started dropping to a lower angle as he threw.

    He was getting tired and falling out of his usual form, tossing 50 pitches over his final couple innings. But to pitching coach Rich Dubee, the lower arm angle was better for Boyd. He didn't get the results that day, yielding two home runs to left-handed hitters. But more importantly, Dubee noticed, Boyd's pitches had a different look.

    "He came up to me right after the game and said, 'Hey, did you see where your arm was for this?'" Boyd said. "He goes, 'Did you see that curveball shape? You were commanding it better. You were dropping down on it.'"

    Boyd didn't notice it. He was just tired. But when he threw his next side session in Seattle a couple days later, he lowered his arm slot on purpose, at Dubee's suggestion.

    "He's like, 'Just mess around with it, just for a few pitches,'" Boyd recalled. "I threw 25 pitches and it was way better. I'm like, I can do this."

    The changes Boyd made a difference down the stretch for him, posting 5 quality starts in 8 outings from that point on — he had only 1 in his first 10 starts — as he helped the Tigers climb back into the playoff race. More importantly, the adjustments formed the foundation of his 2017 motion.  The difference is subtle but noticeable. His swinging strikes increased after the change.  (Beck - mlb.com - 4/5/17)

  • Matthew Boyd on pitching: “My dad (Kurt Boyd) was my coach from 9 years old to when I went to college. He was also one of my main pitching coaches. He’d pitched in high school, then went into the Navy and served for seven years. He needed the GI Bill to pay for college. He’s been coaching for a long time. He has a program out in Seattle called Mudville Baseball Club.

    “He was always telling me how to read swings. I’ve had lots of people — other coaches in my life — telling me that, too. But my dad wanted me to understand what the hitter was trying to do. He never called pitches in high school; I always got to call my own game. There were times I got my teeth kicked in. There are times you learn stuff.

    “In college, I kept a journal. Before my starts in my senior year — and even earlier than that — I would write down the guys in conference play. I’d see them swing and would be like, ‘Stephen Piscotty likes to keep his front shoulder in and drive the ball to right center.’ Something small like that would let me know that I was going to attack him on the hands, as opposed to giving him something out over the plate that he could drive the other way, or whatnot.

    “[Nate] Yeskie, our pitching coach, would give me game film of the team from the weekend before. I would try to match that up — it wouldn’t always work — with what I’d written down. He kind of elaborated on what my dad had taught me. It was, ‘Watch where their hands are. Watch where they’re trying to get the barrel to the ball. Watch what the ball does when they foul it off. Are they late on the fastball? Are they sitting on it?’

    “I don’t think [sequencing] is a cut-and-dried thing. It’s kind of a day by day thing. It’s game by game. One of my strengths is throwing my slider backdoor, and on the days I have my curveball, I can throw that to the back door consistently, too. It gives me two dynamics. If I can get righthanded hitters to lean over, that opens up the inside. Consequently, if I can command a fastball in, that’s going to open up stuff away.

    “There’s a dynamic between the pitcher and the catcher. Up here, I know that if [James] McCann sees something, he’s going to put it down. I trust him with that. On the flip side, he also knows that if I see something, we can work on in that sense. That wasn’t always the case. You couple breaking down a splits sheet with what you see.

    “You know their swings from what your eyes tell you — which I think is the most important thing — and hopefully the data backs it up. The data might say his average on down-and-away heaters is really good. That’s where he hits balls hard. But he doesn’t have numbers inside, so that’s where I’m going to attack. Really, the numbers are usually confirming what I’ve already seen with my eyes. Regardless of whether a guy hits a certain pitch, if you set it up a different way you can open up that pitch. Say he’s good down and away on off-speed pitches. If you really stand him up inside with heaters … you can’t hit both of them, right? You have to watch his swing. Maybe it’s, ‘Oh man, he’s cheating to that, so now I have to go out here.’

    “Sometimes I have make adjustments to myself. I had a few starts around the middle of the year — Cleveland, Toronto and Texas — where my slider kind of changed shape. That was because, as [pitching coach] Rick Anderson pointed out, I wasn’t getting out in front like I normally do. His eyes were trained enough to see what was happening.

    “I’d given up two home runs on my slider. That was against Texas. They were flat and kind of sweepy. In that circumstance, I wasn’t commanding my fastball, and because I wasn’t commanding my fastball, they were probably looking off-speed. With my slider not being sharp, that was a problem. Rick was like, ‘Let’s get your fastball back out front.’ Sure enough, I do that and my slider follows. ‘Wham! There it is.’

    “There’s the old adage that everything is predicated off of the fastball. That’s kind of like the default, and it was true in my sense. ‘OK, I get back to here and it’s a go. There it is. A fastball in to my glove side, another to my glove side. OK, now I can command that. Let’s go back to slider. Oh, there’s the depth again.’

    “I have confidence in all four of my pitches, and I’ve had success with all four of my pitches. It’s a matter of putting them all together at the same time. I don’t think I’ve done that yet in this league. I don’t think I’ve shown my best stuff with all four. I think part of it has been me riding with what’s best on a given day.

    “Some days circumstances are going to dictate that you’re a fastball-changeup pitcher. Some days are going to dictate that you’re a fastball-curveball pitcher, pitching north and south. Some days you’re going be a fastball-slider pitcher, pitching east and west. The lineup, your stuff, how you’re feeling that day … that’s all going to dictate what you do. I feel I can go in all of those directions. Regardless of which one it is, I’m reading hitters’ swings.” (David Laurila-FANGRAPHS-Jan, 4, 2019)

  • April 3, 2019:  Matt dominated in his start versus the Yankees, pitching for 6.1 innings in a 2-1 victory.  Boyd struck out a career-high 13 batters, scattered five hits and allowed one run. Boyd had 26 swings and misses and became the first Tigers pitcher to start the 2019 season with back-to-back 10-plus strikeout games.

  • May 28, 2019: “His fastball was jumping,” Gardenhire said. “He has a good feel for it.” 

    Boyd worked in his slider -- the primary source of his ramped-up strikeout rate this 2019 year -- mixed in a curveball and changeup, and sent hitters flailing into the later innings.

    "He really pitches in well to right-handers,” said O's Manager Brandon Hyde.  “You saw us take a lot of fastball strike threes on the inside black. He has a sweeping slider that dives right at your feet. It starts as a strike and ends up a ball underneath. “He is able to locate in to right-handers really well. Got a nice changeup that he uses on the other side of the plate, so you can’t sit on one side. 

  • July 13, 2019:  Boyd's 109th pitch in the 4-1 loss to the Royals was a 93-mph fastball past Adalberto Mondesi to end the seventh inning with a strikeout. It was Boyd’s 10th of the evening and it landed the left-hander in select company in Tigers history.

    Not since Justin Verlander in 2009 had a Detroit pitcher put up double-digit strikeouts in three consecutive starts. Not since Mickey Lolich in 1971 had a lefty done it; he had two such streaks that season and another in 1964. Denny McLain did it in his 31-win season of 1968, as had Hall of Famer Hal Newhouser in 1946.

    “Matty’s doing his thing,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s giving us a chance pretty much every outing. He spins the ball. He’s got a great changeup. He reads hitters really well. He does all those things really good.

  • Sept 28, 2019: Boyd's record and ERA won’t look much different than last year in 2018, and his hit and home run rates were both up. But with 238 strikeouts, most by a Tigers left-hander since Mickey Lolich in 1972, and the fourth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the American League -- not to mention career highs of 32 starts and 185 1/3 innings -- Boyd had a lot of reason for pride, and a lot of reason to believe he can take another step forward next year in 2020.

    “Pitching in this game is a continual cat-and-mouse game,” Boyd said. “I pitched to these guys almost with two pitches early in the year, and now I’m pitching with different pitches. You have to continue to adapt and attack, and read swings and read how lineups are approaching you.”

    “I would like to see a team behind him that catches the ball a little bit better,” Gardenhire said. “Because he’s a good pitcher, a strikeout pitcher too.” (J Beck - MLB.com - Sept 28, 2019)

  • 2019 Season: Even with his full velocity, Boyd is not a hard thrower. His heater averaged 92.5 mph last season and topped out at 96.3 mph. Despite that, Boyd posted the ninth-highest strikeout rate (30.2 percent) and the eighth-highest swing and miss rate (14.1 percent) among qualified starters. He raised his strikeout rate 7.8 percentage points last season (22.4 percent to 30.2 percent), tied for the third best year-to-year improvement in the game.

    The improved strikeout rate stems from improved secondary pitches as much as improved velocity. The 29-year-old Boyd throws both a slider and a curveball and he throw them a lot, more than 40 percent of the time combined. The slider is his go-to breaking ball but the curveball misses bats as well. Both have better than MLB average swing-and-miss rates, as does his fading changeup. (Mike Axisa - May 6, 2020)

  • Jan 31, 2020: Matthew Boyd has arrived in Lakeland, Fla., for Spring Training the last few years with a major improvement over the previous season. He brought a re-tinkered slider and locked down a rotation spot in 2018. He focused on his fitness, revamped his training routine, continued to hone his slider and became the ace of Detroit’s pitching staff in '19. When Grapefruit League play begins in a few weeks, expect Boyd to go to work on the rest of his pitches.

    “At the end of every year, even throughout the year, you’re always looking: Where am I deficient? How can I get better,” Boyd said during the Tigers Winter Caravan. “Some of those things you can make adjustments in-season. Sometimes you can use the benefit of five months where you’re not pitching competitively. There’s little things I was able to do with my changeup and curveball that are a work in progress, that continue to come along, using the stuff we have available to make that better.”

    Boyd didn’t consider himself a two-pitch pitcher last year. He didn’t forget how to throw the curveball and changeup that were more important parts of his arsenal when he first broke into the Major Leagues. But the more success he enjoyed early last season, the more he leaned on the fastball and slider, the two pitches that were the most effective for him early on.

    Boyd’s slider was a wipeout pitch, good for a 43.4 percent whiff rate in 2019 according to Statcast. Opponents batted just .192 off of it in 2019.

    His four-seam fastball, which dropped to an average velocity of 90.5 mph in 2018 according to Statcast, jumped to 92.1 mph in 2019 while gaining 102 rpm in spin rate, making it a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch for him. Correspondingly, the whiff rate on Boyd’s four-seamer jumped from 17.9 percent in 2018 to 24.1 percent last year, by far the highest of his career.

    When hitters made contact with the fastball, however, it tended to be solid. The average exit velocity off the four-seamer jumped from 87.6 to 89.4 mph. Twenty-five of Boyd’s American League-leading 39 home runs allowed came against the four-seamer.

    Considering it was the one pitch other than the slider that Boyd threw in abundance, hitters took advantage. Boyd’s fastball-slider combination was good enough to comprise more than 85 percent of his pitch selection, including 86.6 percent of his pitches in August, when he allowed 14 home runs. By September, catcher Grayson Greiner was pushing Boyd to throw his changeup more, insistently signaling for the pitch. It comprised 20.8 percent of his pitches in 2017, but just 6.1 percent last year.

    “I have four pitches that are all of good quality, and I need to use them. I can use them,” Boyd said last week. “What if I use them? Who knows if I can be a four-pitch pitcher as they continue to get better, what will happen? What will happen if I do use them? That’s a whole different realm that I handcuff myself in, in good and bad ways. With that, good things came about in how I was able to progress my game.”

    Likewise, Boyd’s curveball has been a lesser-used pitch as his slider has become more prominent. Part of that involves how Boyd remade his slider, slowing it down from the mid-80s in his first few seasons to around 80 mph the last two years.

    “It’s a give and take,” Boyd said. “It’s a balancing act and understanding what works for you and what doesn’t.” (J Beck - MLB.com - Jan 31, 2020)

  • Feb 24, 2020: The crowd reaction to José Altuve’s called third strike in the first inning was not a curveball. The Astros are not popular these days, and Altuve is one of their biggest names, bringing a roar from the crowd at Joker Marchant Stadium.

    The pitch that froze Altuve, though, really was a curveball. And for that, Matthew Boyd had reason to cheer on the inside. This is part of the process of spreading out Boyd’s arsenal. He has always thrown a curve; he just hasn’t thrown it like this. He didn’t throw many curves of any kind last year, though.

    “I’ve always said I’m a four-pitch pitcher,” Boyd said after his two innings of work in the 11-1 loss. “Last year, I got a little two-dimensional for a good part of the year, but I have all four pitches.”

    The curveball to Altuve was an 0-2 pitch, a trick he tried again in the next inning. The curve he threw to Yuli Gurriel three batters later with two men on base came on the first pitch. This is the time for Boyd to test it out, but it’s hardly the time to tinker. That was an offseason-long process that began at Driveline near his home in Seattle, continued at home and carried here to Tigertown.

    Boyd basically has his own pitching lab. He bought a Rapsodo machine a year ago and an Edgertronic camera over the fall to help him work on his pitches in the offseason. He used the tools to make his slider an out pitch a couple of years ago. His goal this offseason was to tighten the curve. Boyd threw fastballs on 18 percent of his pitches in 2017, according to Statcast, more than he threw his slider. When his reworked slider rose to prominence in ‘18, his curve dropped to 12 percent of his pitches. Last year, just four percent of his pitches were curveballs.

    It wasn’t just preference. He gave up three home runs off the curve last year. The shape wasn’t right, and Boyd couldn’t really fix it until after the season.

    “My curveball always had a tendency to pop, and it wasn’t,” Boyd said. “You saw it sharper today. Everything [pitching coach Rick Anderson] was telling me was, ‘Hey, you have to get more out in front.’ I understood. It’s hard to do in the middle of the season; we all knew that. I just went into the offseason and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

    Boyd went to Driveline and started adjusting the grip. He threw it in front of the cameras and got readings on the spin and axis. He brought it to Spring Training and showed it to Anderson.

    “Rick has been telling me all the same stuff,” Boyd said. “He tells me things and sometimes it’s like, ‘Boom, that clicks.’ And then other times, that didn’t click as much. And then he shows me on the camera. It’s just another teaching tool. It’s affirming all the things.”

    The goal is to deliver a slower, bigger breaking ball than the slider, which is still his primary breaking pitch. And when Gurriel recovered from that first-pitch curveball to work a nine-pitch at-bat, Boyd went back to the slider for the strikeout to finish off the inning. (J Beck - MLB.com - Feb 25, 2020)

  • 2020 Improvements: 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. (Adam Dubbin@AdamDubbin - Mar. 11, 2020)

  • July 19, 2020: Matthew Boyd was a Blue Jays prospect dealt to Detroit five years ago after the Tigers traded their Opening Day starter that year, David Price, to Toronto. One week shy of the anniversary of the trade, it’s Boyd’s turn to take the ball for Game 1 in 2020. For someone who went to a handful of Mariners openers growing up in Seattle, the history isn’t lost on him. Nor is the journey between.

    “It's an honor. It truly is an honor,” Boyd said. “I remember the days going to watch Jamie Moyer and Freddy Garcia and Félix Hernández over the course of 10-plus years in Seattle, thinking how much fun that would be to do that someday; knowing that I would do it someday. To do it for a franchise like this one -- we love this team, we have a close-knit squad -- every game counts the same, but it's an honor to take the ball on the first day, and I'm excited for it.”

  • Sept 27, 2020: Five months ago, Matthew Boyd was long-tossing in neighborhood parks around his Detroit-area home to keep his arm ready for a potential season while baseball was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. He was even kicked out of one because playgrounds were supposed to be closed.

    So in that context, simply getting to and through a season is a victory for Boyd, who spent weeks helping get the Tigers to a point where they could play as the team’s representative for the MLB Players Association. Nobody on the team arguably has a better grasp of the world outside baseball than he does.

    That said, Boyd would’ve liked better results on the field. He’ll finish the season with a 6.71 ERA, highest among qualified Major League starters by a full run (former Tiger and current Met Rick Porcello is next at 5.64). Boyd's seven losses lead the American League. Barring something crazy, he’ll become the first pitcher to lead the league in home runs in consecutive seasons since Eric Milton in 2004-05, and the first AL pitcher to do it since Brad Radke in 1995-96.

    At the same time, this could well end up being among the most important seasons in Boyd’s development as a pitcher. After leaning heavily on his fastball and slider last year, and paying for it down the stretch, he became more of a four-pitch pitcher in 2020 by reviving his changeup and honing his curveball.

    “Ever since that blowup in Chicago [in mid-August], it’s been consistently getting better and better and understanding my game and getting back to what I do,” Boyd said after his six quality innings Saturday earned him a win against the Royals. “This is another step. Now, there’s going to be a few more days between starts.”

    Boyd dealt with minor injuries through much of the process, from a tight hamstring sustained in Summer Camp to plantar fasciitis in his left foot over his final few starts. He also dealt with a self-inflicted challenge when he accidentally flattened his fastball while trying to increase its spin rate.

    Add in an inconsistent slider that Boyd had to adapt to survive on the mound.

    “We relied on the other stuff more,” Boyd said, “and because of that, I learned how good my stuff is, and how to pitch with stuff. The slider’s not lost; we’ll just keep working with it this offseason and it’ll be pretty special when all of them are firing.”

    Boyd threw fastballs or sliders with 86 percent of his pitches last year, according to Statcast. This season, that combination dropped to 71.6 percent. His changeup usage nearly tripled from six to 17.2 percent. His curveball nearly doubled from four to 7.2 percent, and a nearly 300 rpm rise in the curveball’s spin rate helped result in a near 4 percent swing-and-miss rate.

    While the end results were ugly, the metrics suggest Boyd was, in some ways, a better pitcher this year than last.

    “This is a constant work in progress,” Boyd said, “and this happened for a reason. The changeup was something we leaned heavy on, and because of that, it really opened my eyes to how good that pitch is. Same with the curveball. So there’s a lot of blessing in this year, a lot of ways to grow from it, and I’m really thankful for that.” (J Beck - MLB.com - Sept 27, 2020)

  • As of the start of the 2021 season, Matt has a career record of 34-54 with 5.08 ERA, having allowed 133 home runs and 716 hits in 705 innings.
Fielding
  • In 2019, Boyd was voted the Best Pickoff Move in the AL in Baseball America's Best Tools survey of managers, coaches, scouts and executives.
Career Injury Report
  • September 2014: Boyd had a minor procedure to remove bone chips in his left elbow.