It's been a rough year so far for the Tigers. The offense is anemic, the record is poor, and the fan base is frustrated. But Tarik Skubal? I fucks with Tarik Skubal. Following a rebuild that may or may not still exist, it's clear which of the Tigers' young pitchers has emerged as an ace, and that's Tarik Skubal. Skubal's ERA currently sits at 2.50, and it would be substantially better if not for some home cooking from the Twins scorekeepers, who retroactively changed several of the Tigers' errors to hits following a Twins blowout on April 28th. Other than that, he's been dazzling. Yesterday, in a start against the Orioles, the former top prospect pitched as well as he has throughout his entire career. Over six scoreless innings, Skubal's stuff was responsible for 21 swings and misses (a career-high) and 11 strikeouts (tied a career-high).
I'm aware that Skubal has dominated some not-so-great lineups (he's thrown 13 consecutive scoreless innings against the A's and Orioles), but it's clear something has clicked. Everything is working right now. As a Tigers fan, it is sadly ironic that in a rebuild that has been built entirely around top 5 picks, the best player the Tigers have to show for it is a 9th-round pick. But hey, I'll take it. Skubal right now represents everything you want out of an ace. He's not nibbling the way he did last year. He's keeping the ball in the park as well, which is something he struggled with mightily last year. Every pitch has a purpose, and every count starts 0-1 or 1-2.
It's undeniable that Detroit has had a rough go of things. The record speaks for itself. It's too bad that Skubal will probably have to pitch like a Cy Young winner for the rest of the year if Detroit wants to have any chance of getting back to .500, but for the time being, it's enjoyable watching a star emerge before our very eyes. It's good to know there will at least be a reason to come to Comerica Park every fifth day, and that reason is Tarik Skubal.