Friday, June 10 2022

NEW YORK – At the end of the 2021 season, the left-hander of the Detroit Tigers Tarik Skubalnow the team’s top starting pitcher, had nearly broken the record for most homers allowed in a rookie season in MLB history.

Skubal allowed 35 homers in 149⅓ innings, one shy of the 36 home runs Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Yusei Kikuchi allowed in his 2019 campaign with the Seattle Mariners.

In 2022, Skubal allowed two homers in 58⅔ innings.

“You just have to be less predictable and stop throwing so many fastballs into fastballs,” Skubal said. “That’s why the slider and the switch was a big step for me, just to come back into account that way. Just keep the guys out of the fastball, almost like you have to protect the fastball a bit. And then I just became more confident in my business.”

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Tarik Skubal of the Detroit Tigers throws against the Cleveland Guardians in the second inning at Comerica Park in Detroit on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

To go with limited homers, Skubal has a 2.15 ERA with 10 walks and 61 strikeouts over 10 starts. The 25-year-old pitched seven scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins..

His 2.2 fWAR ranks second among MLB pitchers.

The reason for Skubal’s success — and lack of homers — is his pitch mix, which looks very different in his third major league season. This year, he is throwing 29.8% sliders, 28% four-seam fastballs, 20.3% two-seam fastballs, 13.8% changeovers, and 8.1% curveballs.

Skubal threw 42.8 percent four-seam fastballs last year.

Twenty-two of his 35 home runs have come against this field.

“His use of the court has changed a lot,” Hinch said. “Just look at what he did last year and the year before. Optimizing pitches to pitch to which batters is key here. Tarik has more pitches across the board, so it’s (pretty much) ) how to use his arsenal.”

Opponents hit nine home runs against Skubal in 32 innings in 2020, the start of his MLB career, though he retained rookie status through 2021. His home run rate improved from his first in its second season, rising from 6.7% in 2020 to 5.5% in 2021. .

In 2022, he has a home run rate of 0.9%.

Skubal, by using more secondary slots, keeps hitters guessing and limits damage.

“Every pitch I throw, if I throw 100 pitches, some pitches, mentally you just won’t be that locked in, for whatever reason,” Skubal said. “If I can throw 80 out of 100 with full conviction, with full intent, then 90 out of 100 and 95 out of 100. If I keep pushing that threshold, I think that’s going to give me better results.”

The results dictate the outcome of the game, whether it’s a win or a loss, but Skubal is more concerned with what he can control, such as his process, his game plan and his state of play. spirit on the mound.

Throwing without fear is a difference maker, as well as his polished pitch mix due to his overall confidence. His psyche is a key part of his evolution into a frontline starter this season.

“I tried to place fastballs or be perfect or be too fine,” Skubal said. “Just having total conviction and no hesitation on every pitch keeps them on the path they’re supposed to be on. That’s why I missed more from the middle of the plate than I did last year.”

Update from Eduardo Rodriguez

left handed Eduardo Rodriguez pitched a bullpen Friday at Yankee Stadium and will pitch again Sunday. If he avoids any setbacks, the Tigers will schedule a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo.

It’s unclear how many rehab starts Rodriguez will need before returning to the Tigers’ rotation. He has been sidelined and on the injured list since May 22, retroactive to May 19, with a sprained left rib cage.

“We’ll start with one,” Hinch said. “I just want us to go through one and have a good rapport. … He’s built. His shoulder is fine. His strength is good. His speed in the bullpen has been in the 90s, which is definitely better than when he got injured. It’s totally positive.

Michael Pineda launches more

right-handed Michael Pineda continues to make progress in his throwing program, but he’s not as advanced as Rodriguez. He pitched a bullpen Saturday at Lakeland, using only fastballs and substitutions.

The Tigers placed Pineda on the injured reserve on May 15 with a fractured right middle finger.

“He’s still having trouble grabbing his slider and throwing his slider, but we want him to keep throwing,” Hinch said. “He’s painless when switching fastballs, and we want his shoulder and body to move like a pitcher so that when he can start spinning it, it can be a few quick relievers, live BPs.”

José Cisnero is getting closer

Right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero completed a live batting practice Saturday at Lakeland, meaning he’s about to begin a rehab mission. He hasn’t pitched this season due to a right shoulder injury he suffered in spring training.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Learn more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers Bulletin.


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