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Blaine Boyer had a very disappointing year but we can't put that solely on his shoulders. The 26-year old right-hander not only had to come back from shoulder surgery he had in 2006, but an oblique strain that made him miss a month early in the season this year. His ERA of 4.30 wasn't too bad and his home run rate was incredibly impressive, but his command was truly awful. In 73.1 innings, Boyer issues 50 walks compared to 62 strikeouts. He allowed over a hit per inning so the fact that he had this much success is a mere fluke. Plain and simple, he cannot succeed in the majors with that kind of command.
While I do say that he can't survive with this kind of command, I don't think that it won't change. Boyer was never one to have picture-perfect command, but it was always good enough. Obviously coming back from shoulder surgery is tough enough and over the past couple years, we have seen what oblique strains can do to a player. Boyer broke into the majors in '05 with the rest of the "Baby Braves" and had people immediately labeling him Atlanta's future closer. With his mid-90's fastball and a nice curveball as his out pitch he went 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA over 37.2 innings. Boyer walked 17 and struck out 33 while giving up 32 hits and allowing only one homer.
Boyer was used quite a bit as a starter this year but don't be fooled. The reason is just to stretch him out and allow him more time in between appearances. He could be used as a spot starter, but his future is in the bullpen. Obviously this past season's showing isn't going to get Boyer on the team and he is considered a long shot, but if he has a good showing in the spring, don't count him out. Since he came up in '05, Bobby Cox was impressed and Boyer has some of the best stuff of any of the young Braves relievers. Right now, I'd say he'll be starting the year with Richmond.