Tigers get a 'C' from ESPN for April work

The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd has racked up 48 strikeouts in 37.1 innings so far this season.

Not much was expected this season of the Tigers, who remain in rebuilding mode for the foreseeable future.

But, for all of the Tigers' youth, and the despite a rotation ravaged by injuries, the Tigers are 13-14 with April in the rear-view mirror, coming off a 3-1 victory Tuesday night over the National League East Division-leading Philadelphia Phillies to snap a four-game losing streak.

So, it hasn't been a complete disaster. And, there's always Casey Mize to dream on, too.

ESPN on Wednesday handed out first-month grades to all 30 MLB teams, and gave the Tigers a middle-of-the-road C for their pre-May work.

Lefty Matthew Boyd was at the head of the class for the Tigers, with ESPN senior writer David Schoenfield hinting at "ace-type stuff" evidenced by 48 strikeouts in 37.1 innings, along with a 3.13 ERA.

"He has the fifth-highest swing-and-miss rate among starters," Schoenfield writes.

Boyd has buoyed a staff hit hard by injuries, including to presumed ace Michael Fulmer before the season even started, new addition Matt Moore after just 10 scoreless innings into his Detroit tenure, and most recently, Jordan Zimmermann because of a balky elbow.

He's also helped — at least when he's on the mound — offset a Tigers offense that largely has struggled this season.

"I mean, nobody expected the offense to be any good," Schoenfield writes, "but this is one pitiful lineup — and the Tigers just struck out 20 times in one game against the White Sox. It hasn't helped that Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera have combined for only three home runs."

The Tigers' 20 homers rank last in the majors, and they're just 28th in runs scored (94) while their .228 batting average and .676 OPS both rank 25th.