Detroit Tigers: What to make of Tarik Skubal’s struggles

The Detroit Tigers have sent Tarik Skubal to the mound as the team’s de facto “ace” in 2022, with Casey Mize ending his season early to undergo Tommy John Surgery. Skubal’s pitched incredibly well and been the team’s ace.

However, the Detroit Tigers have seen Skubal struggle in each of his last three starts. He has failed to make it beyond the fifth inning in his previous three outings. This comes after being one of the best pitchers across the league in May.

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The struggles are frustrating, especially when the offense is finally showing some life for the first time in a long time. Skubal’s struggles might leave some fans worrying about injury, but even with his struggles, the performance does not lead me to believe there are signs of an injury.

But, with three troubling starts in a row, there is cause for concern. At least some concern for Skubal and what his issues are or what the problem is. It could just be a few tough match-ups or a few starts where maybe he did not have his best stuff and paid for it.

Either way, it’s three starts where the Tigers expect better from the southpaw. He’s still settling into this “ace” role, and mismatches will happen.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Tarik Skubal’s struggles are troubling.

Skubal’s struggles are problematic, but the more you look at it, it seems that it was just three good teams that were able to get the best of the southpaw. Looking deeper into each of his last three starts, his fastball velocity and spin rate mainly remained the same, while he was a little more low-to-mid-90s than mid-to-upper-90s against the Boston Red Sox, I’m not too concerned.

Looking deeper into his Baseball Savant, nothing that stands out metrics-wise leads me to believe that Skubal is dealing with an arm injury. Nothing statistically jumps out. The biggest thing I looked at was velocity and spin rate relative to where he has been in recent starts, but his consistency makes it seem just fine.

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However, Skubal did face three tough lineups in a row. The first of the bad starts came against the Toronto Blue Jays, who were red hot and are fighting with the Red Sox to catch up with the blistering hot New York Yankees.

The Blue Jays tagged him for four runs over four innings, seeing him allow seven hits and depart the game after just 76 pitches. He followed that up in his next start, going 100 pitches over five innings against the Texas Rangers, where he surrendered five runs while giving up eight hits.

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Then, Wednesday night, the Red Sox had his number, tagging him for six hits and six earned runs over 4.2 innings of work, seeing him depart after 99 pitches. It’s a rough stretch for the team’s “ace,” but he will be just fine. Even if it takes time for the Tigers to see him get things going again at the level he was at.

Overall, Skubal has fallen to a 3.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP to this point during the 2022 season. However, Skubal is still looking just fine, but this string of bad starts needs to come to an end. One Tigers writer seems to think that trading Skubal might be worth considering.

Here’s a tweet from Lynn Henning about moving Skubal.

This type of reaction is a bit hasty if you ask me. The team’s ace is the only serviceable pitcher amid injuries to Mize and Matt Manning, with Spencer Turnbull still rehabbing. The Tigers need someone to anchor the rotation, and giving up on Skubal right now is a major panic move if you ask me.

Even if Skubal gets moved in the fall, it’s a mistake. Henning says that Skubal needs to correct the struggles and that he should be traded come fall. That’s a BOLD take.

Skubal has the opportunity to be the team’s ace and needs to be kept around to do just that. If he ends up shifting back to a two or three when Turnbull and Mize return, so be it, but trading him is very much an outlandish suggestion.

Skubal’s so-called “blip” is the product of three strong lineups getting the best of him. Give it time; he’s slated to get the nod against San Francisco in his next start. The San Francisco Giants are 38-31 and in third place in the National League (NL) West. I’d like to think he should be able to get back to business.

There’s no reason to be alarmed with Skubal’s struggles. Not yet, at least.

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