Tarik Skubal and the Tigers embarrassed White Sox in historic fashion Opening Day

Ace Tarik Skubal and a trio of Detroit Tigers relievers made easy work of the hapless White Sox lineup on Opening Day in Chicago
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers v Chicago White Sox / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

The story of the Detroit Tigers' Opening Day shutout of the White Sox on Thursday isn't just that they beat their division rival to open the season on a happy note. It's just how dominating of a pitching performance that the Tigers put on display Thursday.

We knew the Tigers pitching staff would be improved this year -- much improved. We spent most of spring training seeing them put on spectacular performances while reminding ourselves and others that spring training stats don't necessarily mean much.

The velocity meant something. The movement meant something. The rising excitement from baseball media members outside of Michigan definitely made you that there was more than just the fan optimism of a new season at play. Still, we had to wait for games to count.

Then when they finally did, four Tigers pitchers combined to do something pretty cool:

Already talked up as either a dark horse favorite for the Cy Young Award, Tarik Skubal showed why.

Detroit Tigers ace Tarik Skubal made White Sox batters look silly

It started with Skubal, who racked up 20 swinging strikes in six innings while striking out six and walking none. He threw just 83 pitches, and the White Sox swung at them 49 times. That's 24% of pitches and 41% of attempts resulting in a whiff. Fully half of the 10 changeups he threw resulted in a whiff.

In total, he gave up three hits, all singles. No Chicago player safely reached second base.

A trio of relievers closed things out for Detroit without allowing a baserunner and striking out five of the nine batters they faced. It's hard to say who was the most impressive there, but worth noting Andrew Chaffin got five whiffs while throwing just 12 pitches.

Justin Foley threw the three fastest pitches of the game, all above 100 mph, and his sinker caught the attention of Pitching Ninja's Rob Friedman.

All in all, it was a dominating, overpowering performance by Detroit in a game that lasted just 2 hours, 3 minutes.

The Tigers are expected to have a good pitching staff

It might be easy to write this off with a quick, "Yeah, but the White Sox are supposed to be awful." They were and they are, but the Tigers pitching staff is supposed to be pretty good, too. It's been the chief reason for optimism among fans and analysts alike, even as most agree the lineup probably isn't quite good enough to get the team into much of a playoff run.

FanGraphs noted the spring improvements in velocity by the Tigers, and writer Jake Mailhot covered the team's depth at starting pitcher, concluding: "It’s taken them a while, but the strength of their starting rotation should give fans in Detroit something to be optimistic about as they head into the regular season."

It's just one game. Naturally, there will be struggles along the way. But seeing the talented Tigers pitchers overwhelm the White Sox hitters in a game that counts.

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