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Detroit at Seattle Preview: A pair of top prospects face off on the mound

Tarik Skubal returns to a familiar city, hoping to find some consistency.

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Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Well, that was certainly a nice surprise. Monday night (really Tuesday morning), Spencer Turnbull was masterful in Seattle, notching just the eighth no-hitter in Tigers history. This was already the fifth no-no of the year thanks in part to the new baseball, and the Mariners have shockingly been on the receiving end of four (!!) of the last 10 such occasions, including two already this season.

Maybe Tarik Skubal will someday add his name to the list, but that seems to be a far way off. 2021 has so far looked a lot like 2020 for Skubal, which is probably not how the promising young lefty envisioned it. Homers are still an issue and the strikeouts are down a little, while the overall numbers still look pretty ugly. Maybe a trip to Seattle, where Skubal played college ball, will help him finally find some hope.

Ultimately, it feels like Skubal just needs to see some success so he can build off of something. A.J. Hinch believes focusing less on his splitter could be helpful, and if it helps him get his walks and home runs until control then go right ahead. But if the crooked numbers last much longer, it might be time for a trip back to Toledo.

Detroit Tigers (16-26) at Seattle Mariners (21-22)

Time/Place: 10:10 p.m., T-Mobile Park
SB Nation site: Lookout Landing
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tarik Skubal (0-6, 5.73 ERA) vs. RHP Logan Gilbert (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Game 56 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% FIP fWAR
Mize 57.2 20.1 8.5 4.43 0.6
Keuchel 59.2 12.0 7.2 4.87 0.2

The Mariners made some positive headlines last week, bringing up two of their top prospects. Alongside Jarred Kelenic, who is quickly becoming one of the best young hitters to watch, righthander Logan Gilbert made his way up to Seattle. His first start featured four runs and two homers over four innings to go with five strikeouts and no walks.

Like Skubal, Gilbert is just 24 years old and ranks highly on most prospect lists. He hit 96 mph against Cleveland and has good secondaries as well. Expectations are mild for his second career start, but this is exactly the type of offense that can make young pitchers look good. Either way, it will be fun to see a couple of the game’s top-50 prospects face off.

Key matchup: Tarik Skubal vs. confidence

Both A.J. Hinch and Skubal himself admitted after his last outing that confidence and conviction from pitch to pitch has been his issue thus far, and it would only be natural for him to feel some discouragement with how the season has started. We would never suggest judging a pitcher on win-loss record, but at the same time, it cannot be too fun to see “0-6” next to his name. Furthermore, it looks like his offseason tinkering at Driveline Baseball has yet to pay off.

The future is still very bright for Skubal, and 33 meh innings to start the year — or even 65 blah innings to start his career — tell very little about what he might become. However, at some point there has to be a string of a few good outings, just to have something to build on. Maybe a return to Seattle will kickstart the process.