At first glance, it would appear that Boyd’s four-seamer velocity was down in 2018 (90.7 vs 92.4 in 2017); and while it was down in the first half of 2018, it returned to normal in the second half. The pitch had a 56.5 zone%, 24.1 O-swing%, and 7.0 SwStr% on it’s way to earning a -0.5 pVal. If he can keep his normal velocity for the full season, combined with the other changes he made, the four-seamer should be an asset for him moving forward.
This is what we’ve been building toward. Boyd upped his slider usage from 10.3% in 2017 to 31.1% in 2018, and what an elite pitch it was. The pitch struggled to a -4.7 pVal in 2017, so he completely reworked the pitch. Slowed it down to an average velocity of 80.5 (86.0 in 2017), and changed the movement. The result was the league’s sixth best slider (18.9 pVal), thanks to a 48.1 zone%, 38.8 O-swing%, and 15.8 SwStr%. He allowed a .172 BAA, while upping his K rate to 33.3% from 22.4% in 2017.
Boyd faded his two-seamer in 2018 (10.0% vs 18.6% in 2017) in favor of his slider. The pitch earned a -2.2 pVal, while allowing a .222 ISO and .359 wOBA, and having only a 3.0 K%.
Boyd also faded his curveball in 2018 (12.3% vs 18.2% in 2017) in favor of his slider. The curveball worked with his slider as what was essentially a “slow slider.” Overall, the curveball earned a -4.6 pVal, as he threw the pitch for balls more often than strikes. The O-swing% decreased from 26.3% in 2017 to 18.3% in 2018, which caused the K% to decline from 28.9% to 19.6%; however, the pitch allowed 47.6% IFFB%, his second straight season of > 30%.
Let me know if you’ve heard this before: Boyd also faded his changeup in 2018 (7.7% vs. 20.9% in 2017) in favor of his slider. Boyd’s changeup has never had a swinging-strike percentage under 14.0%, and yet he’s never had a K% on the pitch of greater than 22.4%. The swinging-strike rate never seems to lead to K%, which makes it seems like the sequencing of this pitch doesn’t lead to it being thrown in two-strike counts. Boyd’s changeup got hammered in 2018, allowing a .333 ISO and .415 wOBA.