Joe Boyle didn’t get to pitch the year he was drafted because the season was cancelled. In 2021 he only threw 19.2 innings after missing much of the season with an injury. Things were on his side in 2022 as he put together a full season on the mound.

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Cincinnati sent Joe Boyle to join the High-A Dayton Dragons to begin the year. Things probably couldn’t have gone much better if you were writing fiction. Boyle didn’t allow a hit in his first two starts, striking out 17 batters with five walks in 8.0 innings. In his third and final start of April he would finally allow a hit – just one – in 5.0 innings, but also had five walks in the game.

Following another shutout, 4.0 inning performance to start May, Boyle allowed a run for the first time on the year in a 4.2 hitless inning performance on May 10th thanks to six walks. Over his next seven starts he allowed three earned runs, walked 18, and struck out 55 in 33.2 innings for Dayton.

There were fireworks on July 4th, but Joe Boyle didn’t like them. In one of the weirder stat lines you will ever see, he was charged with seven earned runs on just one hit in 2.1 innings. That will happen when you walk six batters and hit another one.

Over the next four starts Boyle walked 16 batters in 17.0 innings while striking out 31. That would end his time with Dayton and on August 11th he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. In his first two starts he allowed a run in each game, walking and striking out nine batters in his 8.2 combined innings. Biloxi touched him up for two home runs and six earned runs on the 26th. He’d rebound a bit in his final three starts, giving up six earned in 13.1 innings with 19 strikeouts – but also walking 12 batters.

For all 2022 Season Reviews and Scouting Reports – click here (these will come out during the week throughout the offseason).

Joe Boyle Scouting Report

Position: Right-handed pitcher | B/T: R/R

Height: 6′ 7″ | Weight: 240 lbs | Acquired: 5th Round, 2020 Draft

Born: August 14, 1999

Fastball | A plus offering that works 95-97 MPH and touches the upper 90’s.

Curveball | A plus offering with 12-6 breaking action that works in the low 80’s.

Slider | An above-average offering that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.

When it comes to pure stuff, no one doubts that Joe Boyle has some of the best stuff around. He’s got two plus pitches, a third one that flashes plus but is more often an above-average one.

But for as good as the pure stuff for Joe Boyle is, there’s how poor his control is. In his 100.2 innings this past season he walked 84 batters, and that’s probably the best control he’s ever shown since leaving high school in 2017. There is almost no precedent for that kind of walk rate working at the highest level of professional baseball. And there’s almost no precedent for a walk rate that high in the minors improving enough to lead to a productive big league career.

With that said, Boyle has been starting as a professional and that is unlikely to remain his job long term. A move to the bullpen where he could focus more on one or two inning stints could help mitigate some of the control problems.

When Joe Boyle throws strikes, he’s been nearly unhittable. But far too often he just can’t find any consistency with that part of the game and more advanced hitters are able to lay off of those pitches. If he can find a way to throw more strikes he’s got a chance to be a back-end of the bullpen kind of reliever. But if he can’t improve in that area then he is going to struggle to find a role in the big leagues.


Interesting Stat on Joe Boyle

Joe Boyle faced batters younger than him 199 times in 2022. They slugged .111 against him.

45 Responses

  1. James K

    No pitcher with 7.3 BB/9 IP has been successful in the majors. How many pitchers with 13.7 K/9 IP have been unsuccessful in the majors? Boyle is a special case.

  2. Stock

    If Joe Boyle decreases his BB/9 to something less than 6 this year it will be good progress. I feel the goal should be 5.5 BB/9 in AA this year and 4.5 BB/9 in AAA next year.

    I know it is not comparing apples to apples when you look at the performance of minor league pitcher and compare him to a ML pitcher. But I am going to do that here and as a bonus of you putting up with this apples to oranges comparison I will provide you with a bonus comparison.

    To open I would like to make the point that while most people look at K% to determine dominance I look at both K% and IFFB%.

    When healthy I think you would find few people who would not consider Jacob deGrom the best pitcher in baseball today. Last year deGrom lead ML baseball a (K% + IFFB%) of 44.4%. If you eliminate the free passes (BB+HBP) in the total batters faced and focus on those who were force to actually hit the ball deGrom’s (K%+ IFFB%) sits at 45.9%. Compare these two numbers to the one’s Joe Boyle produced. (41.9% and 53.1%). If Joe Boyle continues to makes as much progress in 2023 and 2024 as he did in 2021 and 2022 he will be a special ML pitcher.

    Now for the Reds fan bonus:

    Jacob deGrom’s 2022 BB%: 3.3%
    Hunter Greene’s 2nd half 2022 BB%: 5.8% or 1.4 BB/9 IP. This is a great number just not as good as deGrom.

    Jacob deGrom’s 2022 (K% + BB%): 44.4%
    Hunter Greene’s 2nd half 2022 (K% + BB%): 43.2%

    Jacob deGrom’s 2022 (K% + BB%) eliminating player who BB or HBP from the denominator: 45.9%
    Hunter Greene’s 2nd half 2022 (K% + BB%) eliminating player who BB or HBP from the denominator: 47.6%

    If Hunter Greene can continue to exhibit the control he displayed in the second half of last year he will be considered one of the best pitchers in the game.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    His statistics as an as a starter aren’t unlike Tanner Rainey. I believe reliever will ultimately be Boyle’s position, but I understand the logic of keeping him as a starter to see if he can figure some stuff out along the way.

  4. Doc

    The MLB all time walks leader by 1,000 walks or more is in the Hall of Fame.

    • Stock

      In Tanner Rainey’s 2 years as a SP he gave up 167 hits vs. 170 K’s. That gives him a K/Hit ratio of 1.02

      Joe Boyle has a ratio of 3.52. (194 K’s, 55 Hits)

      Just added information Jacob deGrom in 2022: 2.55
      Hunter Greene after the all star break: 2.32
      Joe Boyle in 2022: 3.33

    • Stock

      My reply to Doc is you are absolutely correct. In fact the top 5 in BB leaders all time are in the HOF.

      In Nolan Ryan’s best 3 year run in the majors (1972-1974) he finished 8th, 2nd and 3rd in the Cy Young and had a WAR of 20.5. He also walked 4.97/9 IP over the course of those three years.

      If your stuff is good enough you can walk 5/9 and still be a good pitcher. The question for Joe Boyle is can he limit his BB to 5/9.

    • Doug Gray

      The all-time leader in walks by 1000 also pitched for 26 years.

      Guys with severe control issues don’t pitch that long.

  5. Stock

    One additional piece of information. In 1991 Randy Johnson won 13 games, had a WAR of 2.6, an ERA of 3.98 and a BB/9 of 6.79. This BB/9 is not far off what Joe Boyle produced last year.

    In 1992 Randy Johnson won 12 games, had a WAR of 3.4, an ERA of 3.77 and a BB/9 of 6.17.

    In 1993 he finished 2nd in the AL in the Cy Young voting followed by a third place finish in 1994 and a first place finish in 1995

    The Reds should be patient with Boyle and let him spend 2 more years improving his control. He should be in the Reds rotation in 2025 or at the latest 2026.

  6. MBS

    Hopefully they do transition Boyle to the pen soon. Not only could narrowing his focus help, but it could also accelerate his rise through the system.

    ***Side note*** Does anyone have a timeline on Gutierrez’s return? I haven’t heard anything, nor do I remember when he had his TJ? Is mid or late 23 a possibility or are we looking at 24 at the earliest?

    • BK

      From the Red’s website:

      RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (Tommy John surgery)
      Expected return: Mid-2023
      Gutierrez underwent successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on July 20 and likely won’t pitch for the Reds until midway through the 2023 season. Initially on the IL with right forearm tightness, he was transferred to the 60-day IL on July 7 after a setback two days earlier while he was pitching live batting practice and was later diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. (Last updated: July 22)

    • Doug Gray

      I’d guess he won’t pitch until 2024. Not many guys are returning in 12 months these days.

      • Stock

        At least one pitcher walked at least 13% from 2011-2014.

        Robbie Ray walked 13.3% in 2018 and 17.9% in 2020 and won a Cy Young in 2021. In fact Robbie Ray had a 13.1% BB% from 2018-2020. Then he won the Cy Young the next year with a 6.7% BB%. He nearly cut his BB% in half.

        In 1991 Randy Johnson had a 17.1% BB%. In 1992 he had a 15.6% BB%. In 1993 Randy Johnson had a 9.5% BB% and finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting.

        Joe Boyle’s stuff is special. If he can get his BB% below 15% he will be a ML SP. If he can get it below 10% he will be a #1 or #2 SP.

        I think he will get his BB% below 15%. I am hoping he gets it below 8%.

      • Doug Gray

        The game is very different. Randy Johnson had stuff that was demonry compared to the other pitchers of the time. Joe Boyle’s got real good stuff, but he’s not Randy Johnson compared to Tim Belcher, man.

        As for Robbie Ray…. the guy had a walked less than 9% of the hitters he faced in his first three years in the big leagues. That he had one big outlier year in 2020 doesn’t make him a comparable guy.

      • Stock

        Robbie Ray had a career 11% BB% His 6.7% in 2021 was a 40% decrease in over his career average.

        Randy Johnson’s BB% at the end of his career was far less than 50% of his first five years.

      • Doug Gray

        We’ve been down this road before: A guy with so-so control improving is not the same thing as a guy with atrocious control doing the same.

    • MBS

      Thanks guys! That would put him on a timeline to compete with Abbott and Phillips for a spot in the rotation. If Cessa and Dunn are our 4 and 5 this year, Cessa’s spot will probably need to be replaced in 24. It would be nice to see Dunn stay healthy and hold down a spot. I’d imagine we’ll have Williamson and Stoudt getting some opportunities in 23, but if not those 2 should also be in the mix.

      The bullpen should get several converted starters in short order.

      • Optimist

        They better not count on Cessa and Dunn as 4 and 5. Cessa is needed in the pen, and Dunn, when good is very good, has not exceeded 50ip in any MLB season.

      • MBS

        @Optimist, I’m going on the assumption that the Reds will not spend any more money. I’d be happy to have another FA starter or 2, unfortunately I just don’t see it happening. Overton is also a wildcard for the opening day rotation, but injuries, and lack of MLB experience puts him 3rd in my pecking order, just above Williamson, and Stoudt.

    • Optimist

      I’m a bit baffled by the Boyle to the pen discussion – if he only slightly fixes the control issue, he’s clearly a starter. If he only slightly fixes it, how can he succeed in the pen? Could you use him in the 8th or 9th if he’s certain to walk one or two? Perhaps he’s a long relief/middle innings fill in, but with the 3-batter rule, it’s asking a lot if he walks 2 of the 3 he faces.

      • Doug Gray

        Slightly? Let’s say he cuts his walk rate by a quarter of what it was last year – that would give him a 15% walk rate.

        Here’s the list of pitchers who walked 13% of the batters they faced in 2022 in MLB and were good enough to have a team say “we’re going to let this guy throw 100 innings or more”:

        Did you see the list? It’s empty. In fact, of the 140 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in 2022 only 14 of them walked 10% or more of the batters that they faced. Only Yusei Kikuchi topped 11.5%.

        Boyle basically needs to cut his walk rate from 2022 in half to join the list of “guys barely able to throw enough strikes to be given enough chance to start”.

        That’s not to say he can’t, but the odds that he can are infinitely small.

      • Doug Gray

        I went back to 2015. Only three seasons out of 958 of them where a pitcher threw 100 innings topped a 13.0% walk rate. Pitchers with that many walks simply don’t get to keep starting in the big leagues.

      • Old Big Ed

        If I remember my long-ago calculus course, odds that are “infinitely small” are pretty much zero.

      • Optimist

        Doug. I’m with you on the likelihood of a breakthrough, and perhaps I misstated it by saying slightly. My point was in reply to the idea of shifting him to the pen. Namely, if he improves enough to move to the pen, hasn’t he improved enough to make it as a starter? I just so don’t see any value for him in the pen.

      • MuddyCleats

        In contrast, when the kid is on, sounds like he’s been almost unhittable? He’s 23 & has played 2-3 yrs of pro ball. How about we take a breath & let the kid try to develop? Got all next season n AA. Maybe he works out of the pen if he struggles & works n some spot starts??

    • Mike in Ottawa

      Accelerate his rise??? He is in AA. My guess is he starts there in 2023 and ends in AAA. Making a probable arrival 2024. I love the Randy Johnson comps, as justification to keeping him in the rotation.

      • MBS

        @Mike, yes, He’s in AA now and struggling 24 would be a pipe dream if he continues as a starter. As noted his issue is all about severe lack of control. A lot of guys say more inning = better development, and it’s a good argument. I believe success breeds success, so getting your teeth kicked trying to be something your not is not only a waste of development time, but a confidence killer. Let him learn how to get 3 outs an inning using his best stuff that he has that day, and not needing to worry about 15 to 18 outs.

        I like a lot of what @Stock says, but the chance that Boyle becomes Randy Johnson is only slightly better than the odds to winning the lottery. There is a reason why starters become relievers. It’s easier, and most guys are not good enough to start for one reason or another.

  7. Old Big Ed

    It stands to reason that taller pitchers would take a bit longer to achieve a fully-repeatable delivery, for much the same reason that there are very few really great tall golfers. And lack of a repeatable delivery would seem to go hand in hand with some wildness. The Reds are just going to have to be patient with Boyle.

    Boyle does not have a lot of mileage on his arm. He pitched 14.1 innings as an 18-year-old; 39 IP as a 19-year-old; 8.1 IP as a 20-year-old in covid-2020; and 19.2 IP as a 21-year-old. Last year at 22 he threw 100.2 innings.

    His BB rate at A+ last year was the lowest (7.1/9 that it had been in his career, outside of two 7-inning stints in a summer college league and in Arizona in 2021. He backslid while at AA, but probably had the right to be gassed by the time he got to AA. Not only had he thrown a lot more innings in 2022 than he had before, but almost by definition he was throwing a lot of pitches per inning, given his BB and K rates.

    I don’t see any reason to move Boyle to the bullpen just yet. He needs reps, and the best way to get them is by starting. The Reds don’t need for Boyle to get to the bigs EARLY; they need him to get to the bigs READY. Almost every pitcher is going to have something of a learning curve in MLB (see Greene, Hunter), but there is no point in having Boyle learn to repeat his delivery anywhere other than in the minor leagues.

    • Doug Gray

      The problem with your theory, Ed, is that even during his time in college the reports were always “there isn’t an obvious fix to his control problems – the mechanics are good”.

      The reason his innings were so low in college is because he walked everyone he faced.

      The Reds probably aren’t going to move Boyle to the bullpen tomorrow, but the chances he doesn’t wind up there are so, so small.

      • Old Big Ed

        I didn’t say that he should never move to the bullpen. I said that pitching more innings in MiLB would seem to be a better way of refining his delivery than pitching fewer innings in MiLB. The Reds minor league teams are not trying to win championships, and the Reds will tolerate the walks if they can see some light at the end of the tunnel. As I said, it can be tougher with tall guys, because the slightest flaw can make a big difference in the pitch (or clubhead, in golf).

        Maybe he is impossible to fix. I’ve seen guys with pretty jump shots in all respects, except that the ball didn’t go in the basket very often. The Reds are going to give him every chance, though.

    • DaveCT

      Ed, I usually avoid the Joe Boyle conversations given the contrasts in opinion. However, you made a point I have often expressed, more about hitters than pitchers, but the same concept. Don’t promote to the ML’s until the prospect is ready. I recall thinking that the promotions of Votto, Bruce, Frazier, and Cozart, and possibly Mesoraco all occurred when they were ready. I recall the common wisdom of the time was that hitters required a very large number of minor league at bats before advancing. I want to say it was 1500, but I’m not sure. That may not be the same for the elite kids today but it was a good formula then and probably still is for the more mundane ML hitters. I cannot imagine clubs not having a like approach with hitter (I just get lost in today’s analysis). I do think with Boyle and our other arms we will know in a year or so how successful the top to bottom pitching development program under DJ will be. Boyle may be a major test case for that.

      • Optimist

        I understand your general point, but Boyle is an exception that won’t necessarily make the case. As just a random check I looked at the MiLB stats for Verlander, Castillo and Mahle, basically a HOFer, an excellent SP, and a very good pitcher, respectively. They had essentially 20, 50 and 100 MiLB starts. For their talent they developed fairly traditionally.

        I started following Boyle when Doug started highlighting him, (an excellent reason to be a Patreon Patron!) and recall several comments to the effect that he’ll either be an all-time great, or won’t get past A ball. Essentially he’s on the career leaderboard for lowest floor/highest ceiling ratio.

        This is just the latest thread that seems to confirm that – yet he’s in AA and just beginning to struggle with the same crazy stat lines – unhittable and uncontrolled. Maybe this is where he plateaus. As Doug emphasizes there is no precedent for a pitcher with this stat line to suddenly find the missing ingredient (see the “good mechanics” above) and eliminate the control issue yet retain the unhittability.

        Still – it’s his age 23 year, so we can all watch and wonder . . .

      • MuddyCleats

        Agree, 2400 minor league ABs is the number I’ve seen referenced

      • Doug Gray

        But even so, that isn’t really it. 2400 at-bats is 6 seasons. For a guy drafted out of high school that puts them in the big leagues at 23-24. For a college guy? You’re talking about not calling them up until they are 27.

        Some guys need that. Some guys need 500-1000.

      • DaveCT

        Optimist, I completely agree Boyle is a great exception; some of the lesser known guys like Rivera, Aguiar, etc are much more likely to be better ‘case studies’ of the DJ program. The Verlander/Castillo/Mahle comp was good in the sense that Verlander was an accomplished college arm while Castillo and Mahle were both HS kids, and with different abilities. The whole topic of player development interests the heck out of me. Given the proliferation of data available to the average Optimist snd Dave, it follows for me there’s an appetite for much more discussion on player development via the club.

  8. Lee

    Every time I come across a Joe Boyle post, I feel the need to mention how awesome the dude is. Got to talk to him a couple times in Dayton this past season, and he’s the easiest guy to root for.

  9. Jonathan

    @ Doug, I have read many of your posts of pitchers who don’t succed with Boyles walk rate; however, there isn’t much talk about the strikeout rates that seem to be upper tier. How many milb pitchers have not succeeded with the k rate that Boyle is posting? Shouldn’t we be focusing on that? No matter if a pitcher is walking or allowing a hit….WHIP to me is a good measurement. Boyle is 1.29 which is pretty decent IMO and is in line with good to great MLB SPs. Under 1.00 is elite.

    • Doug Gray

      No, we shouldn’t be focusing on that. Pitchers can and do find success with varying degrees of strikeout rates. No one is finding success walking 7+ guys per 9 innings pitched (in the big leagues).

  10. patrick

    Well the only guy like Boyle I can think of is Bobby Witt
    In AA 1985 11.31 BB/9 10.03 k/9 also 6.69 h/9
    In 31 starts with Texas Rangers 1986 8.13 BB/9 9.93 K/9 7,42 h/9
    He had a 14yr career as his career progressed his bb and K rates both decreased
    thebaseballcube is a good site to see his numbers including college

    • Doug Gray

      Hey there – now we’re talking. This is one I hadn’t seen before.

      • patrick

        I am surprised since he is Bobby Witt Jr’s dad.

        I remember his second start of his career 5ip 0 H 2ER 8BB 10K

      • Doug Gray

        I’m well aware of Bobby Witt. I just wasn’t aware of how many walks he had the first two years of his career.