Tigers to go with Boyd in possible showcase vs. Royals

Matthew Boyd is one of the hottest names on the trade market. He can enhance his value a little more with another strong outing Saturday.

The Detroit Tigers ace left-hander will make his first start since July 4, taking the mound in the second game of a three-game series in Kansas City.

Boyd (6-6. 3.87 ERA) had an unusual outing against the Chicago White Sox in his last start, as he allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings but also struck out 13 without a walk.

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"I just know when Boyd is pitching, he gives you an opportunity to do something," manager Ron Gardenhire told the media. "He gives you a chance to win."

Lefties who can deliver an average of six innings per start and possess a 7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio are going to attract plenty of attention from contending teams.

San Diego, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Boston, the New York Yankees and Houston are among the teams with rumored interest in Boyd, the Tigers' biggest bargaining chip. He is under club control through 2022, making him an even more valuable commodity.

Boyd's 142 strikeouts are the most by a Tigers pitcher prior to the All-Star break since Mickey Lolich racked up 156 in 1972.

"I don't know about everyone else, but I love it. Makes me feel like I'm calling the right pitch," catcher John Hicks told MLB.com. "He's been striking out a ton of guys all year. There's a reason he's top-five in strikeouts."

Boyd has started twice against Kansas City this season, splitting those decisions. For his career, he's 4-8 with a 6.39 ERA in 16 starts against the Royals.

Royals All-Star Whit Merrifield in particular has worn out Boyd -- 13-for-31 (.419), five doubles, a triple, six RBIs.

Royals right-hander Brad Keller (4-9, 4.47 ERA), who will oppose Boyd, doesn't have an electric arsenal. Other than a 10-strikeout outing against Cleveland in April, Keller hasn't struck out more than six batters in any of his starts this season.

He has walked five batters four times this season, including his last start on July 5. Keller still held Washington to one run in 5 2/3 innings of that game, however, getting a no-decision in a 7-4 Royals win.

He attributed his control issues that night to humid conditions.

"I just kept going to the resin bag and to the dirt to keep my hand dry," Keller told MLB.com. "Every time I went to the set, my hand and arm were dripping wet. At the end, I just went to my sinker -- that's the only pitch I could sort of command."

Keller has appeared in seven games against the Tigers in his career, including three starts. He's 1-2 with a 2.95 ERA in those outings.

The Royals have a new center fielder in Bubba Starling, who was called up from Triple-A Omaha before Friday's game. Starling, the franchise's top pick in the 2011 draft, is finally getting his chance at the highest level. He went hitless in his major league debut on Friday but did walk and score a run in the Royals' 8-5 victory.

"It's very special, and I dreamed about this since I was growing up, coming to games here in Kansas City," Starling said during a news conference. "And now that it's finally happening, it's very exciting. The front office stuck with me throughout all of this."

--Field Level Media

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