What Tarik Skubal’s surgery means for the Detroit Tigers’ 2023 rotation
Tarik Skubal will likely miss at least half of the 2023 season for the Detroit Tigers
When Tarik Skubal left his last start on Aug. 1 with left arm fatigue, Detroit Tigers fans once again had to hold their breath. Could another one of their young pitchers be headed for Tommy John surgery?
Well, yesterday we got some bad news. Not the worst news, but not good either. After seeing a specialist earlier this week, Skubal underwent flexor tendon surgery yesterday. He got surgery, but it wasn’t Tommy John, which would have been Skubal’s second.
When Skubal was placed on the 60-day IL, effectively ending his season last week, we knew the injury was likely serious. But in a lost season like this, it was best to not risk further injury. Nevertheless, that’s now two of the Tigers young pitchers that they were supposedly building around that will miss significant time next season, if not the entirety of 2023.
Skubal got off to a Cy Young caliber start in 2022. Through his first 10 starts, he had an ERA of 2.15 with a FIP of 1.97. He was near the top of the American league in pitching WAR for a spell.
Then he went through a stretch where his ERA hovered around 9. His worst month was June, where he had an ERA of 5.85, walked 12 and allowed four homers in 32.1 innings pitched. He was really struggling with his glove side command. He couldn’t pound the inside part of the plate like he was early in the season.
But after the All-Star break, he appeared to be turning things around. In three starts post-ASB, he did not allow a single earned run in 17 innings. His ERA that had ballooned almost two full runs to 4.11 had now come back down to a solid 3.52. The injury came at a really poor time for him.
Bad injury voodoo aside, this now creates two additional spots in the Detroit Tigers’ 2023 starting rotation. Here’s one possibility of what it could look like should they decide to fill the spots in-house:
- Eduardo Rodriguez
- Spencer Turnbull
- Matt Manning
- Beau Brieske
- Tyler Alexander
There are many different directions they could go in here. Other options include Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo, Garrett Hill, and even prospects like Reese Olson and Wilmer Flores could have a shot, albeit a rather unlikely one.
But sadly, this looks like another offseason where the Tigers will have to go shopping for starting pitching. Whoever the new GM ends up being will have to decide how much of a priority it actually is, but it could bigger than anyone realizes.
Getting Turnbull back will be nice, but he’s no sure thing coming off Tommy John surgery of his own. There’s also injury uncertainties with both Brieske (arm) and Faedo (hip). It would probably be wise to sign a couple arms at least as some insurance.
I wouldn’t expect a Justin Verlander reunion or anything crazy like that, but probably some one or two-year stop gaps. Mid-tier signings like the Eduardo Rodriguez deal from last offseason typically don’t work out well, although I wouldn’t rule it out.
The Detroit Tigers already have a mess to clean up when it comes to their position players, but their starting rotation has now taken two big hits. It’ll be interesting to see how the new GM goes about patching it up this offseason.