Detroit Tigers name Matthew Boyd as Opening Day starter: 'It's an honor'

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press

About a week ago ago, Matthew Boyd was told he’d be making his first Opening Day start.

Boyd, the expected choice for the Detroit Tigers, was first told in March, a few days before Major League Baseball shut down for almost four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Then they told me a few days or so into (summer camp) here,” Boyd said Sunday.

What manager Ron Gardenhire hinted at recently he made official Sunday, announcing Boyd would start the Tigers’ regular season opener Friday against the Cincinnati Reds.

“It’s flattering,” Boyd said. “It’s an honor. It’s something that I don’t take lightly at all. I’m just excited for it.”

[ Why Casey Mize might benefit most from Jordan Zimmermann's absence ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd throws during a live batting practice session at Comerica Park on July 6. 2020.

Boyd’s family and friends — who had originally planned to travel to Cleveland for his previously anticipated Opening Day start — will instead be watching back home in Seattle, where Boyd once attended a handful of Mariners home openers as a fan.

“Everyone is so excited,” he said. “I got to tell them a few weeks ago that would be the case and it’s a lot of fun. It’s an honor, it truly is an honor.

“The days watching Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Felix Hernandez in Seattle and just thinking about how much fun that would be to do that someday — knowing that I would do it some day — and to do it for a franchise like this one. … It’s an honor to take the ball on the first day.

[ Can Tigers put rebuild in overdrive in 2020? ]

Boyd, 29, posted a career-best season in 2019, going 9-12 with a a 4.56 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 32 starts. Though his performance dipped in the second half, unable to contain the home run ball, the left-hander took a big step in becoming a front-line pitcher, striking out 238 batters in 185⅓ innings.

Boyd, who is under team control for three more seasons, is considered a trade candidate, though this year’s 60-game season and Aug. 31 trade deadline will likely keep him in Detroit — if not for 2020, but also the future.

As the Tigers inch closer to the completion of their rebuilding process — perhaps as soon as next season — the chances of Boyd being dealt have dwindled, because the team will need veteran pitchers to usher the youngsters in while competing.

More:Tigers' Matthew Boyd gets COVID-19 scare after helping injured man

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd throws during the first inning against the Texas Rangers on August 3, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.

“I’m so thankful,” Boyd said. “I know the pageantry behind it and it will look different without the fans there in-person, but I get chills thinking about it with the flyover and the pageantry and the bunting everywhere.

“It’s special. I know what Opening Day means here in Detroit, so it’s something I don’t take lightly. It’s truly an honor and it’s flattering that I get to do this, I’m just grateful.”

Boyd is the first Tiger lefty to start Opening Day since David Price in 2015.

Contact Anthony Fenech at Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.