Athletics righty Joe Boyle looks to keep the pressure on in the battle for the final rotation spot

Oakland Athletics righty Joe Boyle is set to take the mound today against division rival Angels

Oakland Athletics Photo Day
Oakland Athletics Photo Day / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Joe Boyle, the Athletics' towering right-hander, is set to take the mound today against the Angels. Boyle has been outstanding in his first two spring training appearances, in addition to looking great in his late-season call up at the end of 2023.

In his first two starts of the spring, Boyle has notched 5 strikeouts with no walks in 5.1 innings, allowing just 3 hits and a single earned run. The most intriguing part is the lack of free passes allowed.

Boyle struggled mightily with his control in the minors. From his first season in the Reds system back in 2021 until the time the A's called him up in September of last year, Boyle had a combined walk rate north of 16%.

In 2023, NL Cy Young winner Blake Snell was worst in baseball, walking just over 13% of the batters he faced. Just 5 qualified pitchers had a walk rate over 10% last year. Boyle's numbers were unsustainable and led to major question marks in his profile.

Since the call-up to Oakland, Boyle has found a way to flip the switch and has become one of the most interesting arms in the league. He's started throwing a sweeper, giving him four distinct pitches to work with and they've been working thus far. He has elite velocity and major strikeout potential.

If Boyle continues this run of success, the Athletics will be hard-pressed to send him back to Triple-A to start the year. They surely don't want to lose either of Luis Medina or Kyle Muller to a waiver claim but Boyle has clearly figured something out. If he's pitching this well at the end of March, the A's are going to have to find a way to keep him in the majors.

Aside from Boyle, the Athletics are putting out a pretty standard lineup today, one that we might see in the regular season.

JJ Bleday once again gets the start in center while Esteury Ruiz works in left field. Darell Hernaiz is still looking to secure the job at shortstop, and Miguel Andujar gets another start in the outfield.

The Angels counter with Patrick Sandoval on the mound. The lefty pitched to a 4.11 ERA in 144 innings last year and will look to carry that momentum into 2024.