Matt Boyd makes the transition to the starting rotation
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 01:02
When sophomore left hander Jace Fry underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his throwing elbow after last season, a gaping hole formed in the starting rotation for No. 6 Oregon State.
Fry was a pivotal part of OSU’s playoff run, leading the Beavers in earned run average at 2.45 with three complete games in his 13 starts. With Fry not expected back until just before the postseason, Oregon State needs somebody to step up and fill the void.
Luckily for the Beavers there are many options — right-handed pitchers Scott Schultz and Taylor Starr provided big innings, and sophomore Dylan Davis showed flashes last season.
While all three are viable candidates, head coach Pat Casey chose to go with another experienced pitcher — senior left hander Matt Boyd.
“Coach [Casey] said there would be an opportunity to start if I was interested,” Boyd said. “I was definitely interested and it was something I tried to work toward in [the summer] to get some starts under my belt and get the feeling back and in the right mindset.”
Boyd has the necessary experience to be an effective replacement — the senior has a 2.22 ERA in 125.2 career innings — but he’ll have to make an important transition first.
Boyd has come out of the bullpen almost exclusively in his three-year career at Oregon State, including all 31 appearances in 2012. The switch from the bullpen to the starting rotation can be a difficult one, but one Boyd’s coaches and teammates think it will be a smooth one.
“I expect him to be sharp,” Casey said. “I expect him to be better as a starter. He’ll be less on edge and I think he will be more in tune to get into that groove.”
Sophomore right hander Dylan Davis knows better than anybody what it takes to go back and forth between positions.
Davis started in right field for the first half of 2012 before being utilized more as a pitcher, starting one game before coming out of the bullpen. The flamethrower expects Boyd’s experience and offseason training to prepare him well for what lies ahead.
“I don’t think it was that big of a change because this summer he started [in the Cape Cod League],” Davis said. “I think he kind of developed a routine and I think he knows what he has to do differently. It’s more mental than anything.”
Of his 13 appearances in the highly-competitive Cape Cod League, Boyd only started four games. He still spent the offseason preparing for the change.
“It’s a transition but he’s been training for it all summer and all fall,” Starr said. “Now as we’re heading into the spring he’s been training into it, he’s in great shape and I think he’ll be ready to go.”
“If it was somebody that hadn’t done it I think it would be different,” Casey added. “But here’s a guy that’s been here three years and been a lot of big games in a lot of big situations.”
The biggest difference Boyd has had to make in the offseason is improving his stamina. As a reliever Boyd is only asked to pitch one or two innings in a game, as opposed to the six-plus innings that will be expected out of him as a starter.
“I’m really focusing more on endurance instead of quick, short bursts,” Boyd said. “Just really strength and condition, that’s been the biggest thing to last with more of a workload of innings. I’m just trying to last longer for a whole season.”
After the Cincinnati Reds selected Boyd in the 13th round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, it was up in the air if he would even return for his senior season.
But coming four wins short of the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Boyd had no shortage of motivation. The left hander decided to come back to Oregon State for one last chance at a championship.
“I’m definitely trying to push harder this year,” Boyd said. “It’s kind of my last hurrah to win a title. That’s the reason I came back, is to get to Omaha.”
Andrew Kilstrom, sports reporter