Tarik Skubal fulfilling Tigers preseason hype after placement on MLB’s Cy Young ranking

Tigers starter Tarik Skubal has been as good as advertised in 2024
Apr 17, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal (29) throws
Apr 17, 2024; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Tarik Skubal (29) throws / Brian Bradshaw Sevald-USA TODAY Sports

Things aren't perfect in Detroit at the moment, with the Tigers having gone 3-7 in their last 10 games. They're currently 21-21, in 4th place in the AL Central, and four games out of the last AL wild card spot.

Despite some of the struggles we've seen thus far, Tarik Skubal has been outstanding on the mound. He's followed up an impressive showing in 2023 with arguably the best 49 innings Tigers fans could have asked for.

Skubal has pitched to a 2.02 ERA with a 2.03 FIP to match, and his performance has gotten national recognition. MLB released their most recent batch of Cy Young rankings and Skubal heads the list on the American League side.

Tarik Skubal leads MLB.com's AL Cy Young rankings

Skubal's 60 strikeouts are good for fifth in the AL, and he's allowed just eight walks all year. He completely dominated the Yankees earlier this month, notching 12 strikeouts and drawing comparisons to former Tigers' star Max Scherzer.

Scherzer is the most recent Tigers' pitcher to win a Cy Young award in Detroit. He did so back in 2013, just after Justin Verlander had won one in 2011. Verlander came close in 2016, finishing second behind former Tiger Rick Porcello. But the Tigers haven't had anyone come close in the last seven years.

Assuming he stays healthy, Skubal will change that this year. All of the underlying data suggests he's one of the best pitchers in baseball and he even has the top-line stats that voters love. He's currently 5-0 and is on pace for close to 200 innings.

Skubal has done just about everything right in 2024. He's done extremely well limiting hard contact and home runs. His 6.5% homer to fly ball rate is good for eighth best in the majors, and right in line with his career numbers.

His 35.3% chase rate is in the top 5% league-wide, and his four-seamer has been completely unhittable. Batters have hit just .152 against the fastball this year and there are no signs of Skubal slowing down.

If Skubal is able to keep up this level of performance over the next four and a half months, he's going to be the odds on favorite to take home the AL Cy Young award. And if he does, it'll be well deserved.

Regardless of whether the Tigers offense can get its act together in time to make a playoff run, Skubal's outings will be must-see TV for the foreseeable future.