This player preview was written by Josh G., who posts here as jeg.
Atlanta native, Blaine Boyer is slated to serve as a middle reliever for the Braves in 2009. After a very successful rookie campaign in 2005 as one of the “Baby Braves”, Boyer has struggled to perform at high level of play. Injury derailed his 2006 season and set Blaine back in his development but he was able to regain his plus stuff following rehabilitation.
Lack of stuff has never been a problem for Blaine, as he owns a mid-90’s four-seam fastball and a sharp downer curveball. Blaine also throws a low-90’s two-seam fastball and solid change. Boyer’s stuff has prompted some of his fans around the league, including John Smoltz, to suggest he could be an effective closer in the future.
Boyer’s 2008 season was a tale of two halves. Boyer started strong in 2008, posting 3.93 ERA and striking out 45 batters while allowing only 47 hits in 52 and 2/3 first half innings. In the second half, Boyer was knocked around by opposing batters to the tune of an 11.17 ERA, 26 hits, and 7 homeruns in just 19.1 innings.
Injuries to Peter Moylan and Rafael Soriano forced the Braves to use Boyer more frequently in high leverage situations in 2008 and he wore down in the second half. Blaine’s 76 appearances tied for the 7th highest total in all of MLB. With the goal of improved conditioning, Boyer spent the 2009 offseason working out with John Smoltz and believes the problems he experienced in the second half of 2008 will not occur in 2009.
The organization has long been a fan of Boyer’s, though he was rumored to be part of the package headed to San Diego for Jake Peavy. Boyer seems to have earned Bobby Cox’s trust and with a healthy Moylan, Soriano, and Gonzalez, his work load is set to decrease. The organization is expecting Boyer to pitch well for an entire season and not just the first half of one. The key to Boyer’s success in 2009 is better endurance and with that comes maintaining the lower homeruns allowed totals he posted in the first half of 2008 throughout a full season. With his talent and strong K/BB and H/9 ratios, improved endurance will allow Boyer to post the best season of his young career.
Thanks to jeg for a terrific preview of Boyer.