In his previous start, Detroit Tigers left-handed rookie Tarik Skubal broke the rookie record for most strikeouts in a season set by Spencer Turnbull. Today, he looks to continue to make history.
As the Detroit Tigers continue their road trip across the NL Central with a three-game series starting in Pittsburgh this afternoon, it does seem rather fitting that Tarik Skubal would take the mound on Labor Day.
The origins of Labor Day are centered on recognizing the efforts of laborers of the development of the United States during the late 19th century. These days, we all know it as the day when summer officially ends and it’s back to school time.
So how does this apply to Tarik Skubal and the Detroit Tigers? The Tigers pitching rotation, which has been hampered by injuries, has been going through a “development” of sorts lead by pitching coach Chris Fetter, and what seems to be a change across the entire organization.
There are several benefactors to the “Fetter effect” but for the Tigers, the development of a late-round pick in Skubal has been one of the biggest in the second half of the season. If you look at his numbers on any stat-based site like Baseball-Reference or Baseball Savant, the one number that standouts in the second half of the season are how much less he is walking batters.
In the second half of the season heading into today, he has walked just seven batters in 44 innings of work, spread over eight starts. Compare that to his first eight starts this year, where he walked 17 in 33 innings of work, this recent stretch has helped Skubal stay longer in games and throw a few more strikeouts. (45 in 44 innings of work)
Tarik Skubal is approaching another milestone
So this is where another piece of history could be made today. Pittsburgh has the second-worst wRC+ against lefties in the league next to Texas at 81. They have also hit the least amount of home runs against left-handed pitching at 29 and hit just .235 against them.
Tarik Skubal in 34 games in which 31 of them have been starts, sits at 187 total strikeouts. He is currently on pace to be the quickest to 200 strikeouts in team history. To put that into perspective, let’s list a few Tigers greats how long it took them to get to 200 strikeouts:
- RHP Michael Fulmer: 40 games, 40 starts
- RHP Denny McLain: 42 games, 36 starts
- RHP Les Cain: 44 games, 40 starts
- RHP Spencer Turnbull: 43 games, 42 starts
- LHP Justin Thompson: 45 games, 45 starts
- RHP Justin Verlander: 46 games, 46 starts
Skubal continues to be a work in progress. With his strikeout numbers, even with the limited by innings starts he has left, his place in Tigers history seems to be in a good spot, and all that was made by a tireless work ethic and the labors of the coaching staff to keep him going after a bad outing.