Blaine Boyer was aggressively mediocre in 2016, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and 3.96 FIP, both within 10 points of the league average for relievers. Boyer showcased excellent control and an ability to draw grounders with regularity, but he was simply too hittable. Boyer induced swinging strikes just 6.2 percent of the time and finished with a brutal 3.6 K/9 as a result, worst among any National League pitcher to throw at least 60 innings. Only Zach Neal of the A's was worse, at 3.5 K/9. Time is running out on Boyer's arsenal of old man junk, and without any strikeouts to speak of, his fantasy value is virtually nil.
Boyer has been touching 96 mph with his fastball this spring, a marked improvement over previous seasons, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. The veteran reliever has typically sat at 91-92 mph while occasionally getting up to 94 mph over the last few years, but he's added a couple of ticks after spending the offseason doing exercises designed to strengthen his shoulders. Boyer is still something of a long shot to break camp in the Braves bullpen, but his added velocity has attracted the attention of scouts and he could get a shot with another club if he doesn't elect to head to Triple-A Gwinnett and wait for another opportunity with the team he broke into the majors with back in 2005.
Boyer agreed to a minor league contract with the Braves on Tuesday that includes an invite to spring training, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. The 35-year-old Boyer is coming off a season in which he allowed 80 hits with a mere 26 strikeouts in 66 innings for Milwaukee, but Bowman suggests Boyer stands "a good chance" at an Opening Day roster spot. If Boyer is indeed in the Braves' bullpen at the start of the season, he will likely pitch primarily in mop-up duty.
Boyer has allowed six earned runs in 11.2 innings (4.63 ERA) over 11 appearances out of the Brewers' bullpen in August. Boyer got off to a fast start this year and sat with a 2.03 ERA through June 12, but he has struggled since and nows owns a 3.74 ERA after allowing three runs in an inning Saturday. He will continue pitching in middle relief for the Brewers.
Boyer allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of work Sunday, striking out one, but still managed to record his first save of the season. With Jeremy Jeffress unavailable after pitching four times in the last five days, the Brewers turned to Boyer to protect a three-run lead Sunday and he barely got the job done. Will Smith is close to coming off the DL and bolstering the bullpen, though, so this may end up being the last save opportunity Boyer sees this season.
Boyer owns a 2.16 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 1:3 K:BB in 8.1 innings over seven appearances out of the Brewers' bullpen this season. Boyer, in his first season with the Brewers, has done a good job preventing runs and has not allowed a ball to leave the park. He will continue working in middle relief.