All-Star Hamels praises Boyd's 'devastating' slider

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Matt Boyd devilvers during Saturday night's game.

Arlington, Texas – When a compliment comes from your manager, or by way of your teammates, it’s part of baseball protocol.

When it comes from an opponent, it takes on the air of a tribute.

Rangers ace Cole Hamels was beaten Saturday night by Tigers starter Matt Boyd in a 2-0 Detroit victory at Globe Life Park. And afterward he gave all the credit to Boyd, who put together his finest start since joining the Tigers a year ago: two hits in his seven innings of impeccable work against a Rangers lineup known for wrecking, frequently, some very good starters.

Asked afterward if Boyd reminded Hamels of himself at a younger age, the four-time All-Star, who three times has been a top-10 finisher in Cy Young Award voting, said of Boyd:

“I’d say he’s better. He has a slider. In this day and age, if you come up with a slider, you’re going to be a success a lot easier than what I had, which was a fastball-change-up.

“That slider is a devastating pitch,” said Hamels, who began Saturday evening with a 12-4 record and 2.88 ERA. “He definitely showed that.

“I like how quick he was. He really came after you. He kept firing away. More like a Cliff Lee approach.”

Tigers manager Brad Ausmus agreed after Saturday’s game that Boyd, 25, threw Saturday better than the Tigers had seen him work at any point since he joined Detroit following the July, 2015, trade deadline, when he was delivered by way of a Tigers trade that sent David Price to Toronto.

The difference Saturday was two-fold, all parties agreed.

Boyd during the past off-season added a slider to a pitch repertoire that now features four, regularly used choices: fastball, change-up, curveball, and a slider that Saturday night often became Boyd’s out-pitch.

He benefited also from a mechanical change made in tandem with Tigers pitching coach Rich Dubee. Boyd lowered his former sky-scraping delivery to more of a three-quarters approach. His fastball velocity climbed a mph or two Saturday, and his slider had demonstrably more bite.

Boyd is 4-2 on the season and has lowered his ERA to 4.12, with an impressive 1.23 WHIP.

The Tigers were to shoot for a series victory Sunday against the Rangers in a 3:05 p.m. game, with Michael Fulmer starting for Detroit against Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin.