It was a fun little run while it lasted, but it would appear that the cream of the American League Central Division showed up just in time to blow away all smoke and smash any mirrors that may have indicated a miraculous turnaround for the Tigers in 2020.
It’s been a rough couple of series against the White Sox and the Indians last week, and it hasn’t gotten much better this one as the Tigers have dropped the first two on the road to the Pale Hose. But hey, at least we finally get to see the future in Detroit with Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Isaac Parades getting the big league call on Monday.
Tarik Skubal’s big debut
One of the Tigers’ top prospects got his first taste of the big leagues on Tuesday night when Tarik Skubal took the mound opposite of the White Sox in Chicago. While his outing left a lot to be desired, there was a lot to be encouraged by as well.
The 23-year-old lefthander was greeted rudely by Tim Anderson, who turned his third pitch around — a 93 mph fastball — and placed it into the fanless outfield seats to give the Sox an early lead. He would escape further damage that inning despite throwing 30 pitches, though the high pitch count limited him to just one more frame before his debut was concluded at the 52-pitch mark.
Overall, Skubal’s command was a bit shaky, mainly focusing on his fastball as he missed his spots while failing to record a called strike with any of his offspeed pitches; when his secondary offerings were in the zone, they got hammered. As far as his velocity was concerned, he averaged 95.2 mph with the fastball on the evening — though it took a bit for him to ramp up the velo — compared to his 85.9 mph slider offering, demonstrating some nice separation between the two pitches.
All-in-all, it was a learning experience for a young pitching stud who has plenty of time ahead of him to work out the kinks. For now, Tigers fans can revel in the fact that the future is finally here.
Willi hang around?
When Willi Castro got called up recently he was ready for it. Even though he started with the taxi squad at the end of summer camp, he knew his name would be called this year, and last week it was. He came up and started to contribute immediately. With the injury situation being what it is, Castro looks to spend a decent amount of time at third base. It’s not a position he’s had a ton of time at, but it looks like he’ll be splitting time there with Dawel Lugo for the foreseeable future. He has acclimated himself there pretty well so far, and If his bat continues to hold up, he might take a more permanent hold on the spot.
The starting rotation is not faring so well these days and Michael Fulmer is putting much of the blame on himself.
“It sucks,” he said. “We’re all frustrated. We know we can perform better, we know we should perform better and we know we have to perform better.
“And I think it honestly starts with me because I feel like I’m being that crutch on the rotation, the crutch on the bullpen because of my pitch limit.”
As he works to return from injury, Fulmer is finding frustration with being on a pitch count. In just his third start he was given a ceiling of three innings. He was pulled after 2 1⁄3 innings, which was disappointing for Fulmer because he said he felt pretty good. Despite the frustration with his current limits, Fulmer is feeling good, says he’s making progress, and is looking forward to pitching deeper into games.
Areas of improvement
The news out of left field and the organization is that Christin Stewart is improving defensively as we move through this shortened season. While he’s not threatening to win a gold glove, some of the advanced defensive stats seem to show his improvement is real. The problem, inexplicably, remains with Stewart’s bat. He has managed to find his way to a platoon role at this point in the year because of it. The team still has faith in the promised power bat showing up, and with C.J. Cron now out for the year, it would be a good time for that to happen.
Around the horn
Posnanski discusses how the unwritten rules of baseball strike once again. Red Sox and Patriots told by the state that fans will not be allowed in Fenway or Gillette through September. Vox Media agrees to settle worker-exploitation lawsuits for millions. Fernando Tatís Jr. apologized for hitting a grand slam in a blowout, now it’s time to eliminate the “unwritten rules”.
Baseball is awesome
Fernando Tatis Jr. - San Diego Padres (11) Grand Slam— MLB Home Runs (@HomeRunVideos) August 18, 2020
Distance: 407 ft
Exit Velocity: 109.8 mph
Launch Angle: 22°