Tarik Skubal is far more important to the Tigers than the average fan might think

Milwaukee Brewers v Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Last year, Tarik Skubal was only able to give us a preview of what he was fully capable of over just 80 innings from July to September, after starting the season the 60-day IL following a flexor tendon surgery. He'd been with the Tigers for two years and some change already by that point and pitched a cumulative 299 innings mostly as a starter for a 4.15 ERA, dependable but mostly unremarkable.

When he returned, he looked better than ever. He wrapped up his season with a 2.80 ERA after at fantastic September, when he pitched 30 innings for a 0.90 ERA. The offseason hype was at an all-time high, with Jon Morosi naming Skubal as a potential dark horse candidate for the AL Cy Young.

He might not be much of a dark horse anymore. If the Tigers can't pull out a winning record by the end of the season, Skubal might have that weighing him down a bit in the eyes of voters, but he's already made it very clear that he's the best thing about the team.

Through his June 9 start against the Brewers, Skubal has a 1.92 ERA and an 8-1 win-loss record, but really digging into his stats makes his impact on the team even clearer.

Tarik Skubal's stats through 13 starts confirm he's the best thing about the Tigers

Outside of his sub-2.00 ERA, the Tigers are just better with Skubal on the mound. Jim Costa of 97.1 The Ticket noted the team is 10-3 with him and 22-30 without. Maybe the Tigers are motivated to give Skubal run support because he's been performing so well for them — whatever it is, he empowers his team to do better.

On his June 9 start against the Brewers, Skubal pitched almost seven innings and gave up five hits while only allowing one run and striking out 10. Brice Turang also managed to break up an impressive, under-the-radar streak: Skubal hadn't given up an extra-base hit to a lefty hitter until Turang's triple on Sunday. Lefties are hitting .180 against Skubal so far this season, and righties aren't faring much better (.195).

Skubal's case as this season's AL Cy Young winner is seemingly becoming stronger with every outing. The Tigers just need to figure out how to rally behind all of their other starters as well.