Detroit Tigers: Tarik Skubal shows how a win and loss record has no value

Apr 30, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal (29) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal (29) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers have seen their starting pitchers turn a corner in the month of May. From Casey Mize to Matthew Boyd, the starting rotation has been the most consistent thing, night in and night out. With Tarik Skubal’s performance last night, we saw yet another strong start from the lefty.

As Jacob Boes highlighted last week, Tarik Skubal has an impressive 12.37 strikeouts per nine this month. His April numbers had the thought to send him down to Toledo to work things out but looking at the rotation in Toledo and Erie, there is not much to chose from that has some same stuff that Skubal possesses.

Tarik Skubal’s April numbers

0-4 6.14 ERA 22IP 23H 16R 8HR 14BB 18SO WHIP 1.68 which is what fans were discussing about working on things in Toledo.

So digging a bit deeper, he only had one outing that he went more than four innings, which was in the season-opening series against Cleveland. His four-seam fastball spin average to start the season was 2198 and his average started to creep up for each start in April but was throwing according to Statcast, the four-seamer, slider, splitter, knuckle curve, and every once in a while, the cutter.  The velocity average was around the mid-’90s, topping out around 97MPH.

For the month of April, he threw strikes around a 60% clip, had 14% of his strikes caught looking, and generated 10% swinging strikes.

Changing it up in May

Then starting in his first start in

May against the Twins

, he started throwing his changeup to the tune of 22% of the time and generated called strikes + whiffs (CSW%) of 38%, which resulted in his at the time, his best start of the season at that time.

Again against the Cubs, which was a 4-2 loss, he threw the changeup near 20% of the time and that provided the highest CSW% at 37%.

By introducing his changeup in May, we have seen a reduction in his walks and his strikeouts have gone up. It has some cut action and hitters are hitting just .154 (XBA .116!) and generating a whiff% of 56%.

Tarik Skubal is turning a corner and giving hitters other pitches to think about outside of his slider, four-seamer, and knuckle-curve and splitter mix.  It is more progress under Detroit Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter and Skubal trusting his arsenal and it could not come at a better time.

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