Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Sku Knows?


At long last, the AL Central is competitive again. This week, not only have I been hearing about Shane Bieber striking out half the country, or Byron Buxton being in his best shape in years, but we're dealing with an undefeated Tigers team. Yes, some of this is helped by some recent rainouts in New York, but the Tigers have played four games and won four games, and considering how terrible this team has been in recent years, that's something to talk about.

In 17.2 innings of work between Tarik Skubal, Jack Flaherty and Reese Olson, the Tigers allowed only one run and struck out 16. Really only Kenta Maeda got lit up this week, meaning those three, and potentially Casey Mize if he has anything left after being injured for like 2 years, could be an excellent core for this team. We have been waiting...too long to get a working combination for this rotation. Whenever the Tigers land on one, somebody gets hurt and they have to figure something else out. That's how we got this combination of Mize and Skubal, from the first wave of young pitchers, Olson, from the more recent wave of young pitchers, and Flaherty and Maeda who just got signed. Considering all the other guys who either left [Spencer Turnbull, Matt Boyd] or are still injured [Matt Manning, Sawyer Gipson-Long], it's kinda wild.

It's also wild that Skubal has moved ahead of Mize in the depth chart. From the moment Mize came up in 2020, he was pegged as the centerpiece of a young team that was beginning to come into its own. Mize had a strong 2021, even if the team was still not ready yet. Then in 2022, as Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene came up, Mize got hurt and missed all of 2023. Meanwhile, despite missing a similar amount of time, Tarik Skubal has arguably been more consistent, and had an astonishing second half last year. So it's very odd, to me at least, that Skubal has become more reliable than the former #1 pick solely by not getting injured enough to miss entire seasons.

Then again, Austin Meadows essentially got blacklisted for walking out on the Tigers for anxiety, so I think it's just not being there when the team needs you. 

Skubal is one of many Tigers who've gotten off to great starts this year. Jason Foley and Tyler Holton are already picking up where their hard-to-hit 2023s left off. Kerry Carpenter is already providing solid power numbers. And newcomers like Gio Urshela, Carson Kelly and especially Mark Canha are providing excellent material right off the bat. I knew Canha would be a good addition for the Tigers but he's already been really helpful. Greene and Tork are gonna take their time, like usual it seems, but the team seems more confident and more well-composed than ever, and it's awesome to see.

It'll be interesting to see if this is a mirage, but I'd love for this to be the Tigers team that finally makes something happen. It's been around a decade, it's about time.

Coming Tomorrow- ...well, seeing how much the Brewers spent on him before he even played a game, it's kinda nice how well he's been playing. 

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