The Detroit Tigers have dropped four of the last five games to fall eight games under .500, but that is not for a lack of trying. Each of the past six games have ended with a one-run margin, and four of the past nine contests have gone to extras. None of those games have featured more than eight total runs, but at least the games are close?
While A.J. Hinch would like to see the offense put up some more runs, he would likely be ok with another low-scoring game Tuesday as Tarik Skubal gets closer to the completion of his season. The 24-year-old has been vastly improved over his rocky debut in 2020 and has a good chance to end the year with a sub-4.00 ERA.
Skubal may not make it all the way to the final game, but he is not showing any signs of tiring just yet. He has thrown 22 2⁄3 innings over his last four starts, allowing just four earned runs (for a 1.59 ERA) and recording 27 strikeouts (for 10.7 K/9) during this span. The only concern is that three of these runs came from homers, but otherwise, the youngster is looking great heading into the offseason.
Detroit Tigers (62-70) vs. Oakland Athletics (63-60)
Time/Place: 7:10 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation site: Athletics Nation
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Tarik Skubal (8-11, 4.01 ERA) vs. LHP Cole Irvin (9-12, 3.68 ERA)
Game 142 Pitching Matchup
On the other side of the matchup, Cole Irvin is having himself a strong first season as a starter. He is a little older than Skubal (27) but came into the year with just 45 innings of major league experience. He has looked ready to go from the jump, posting a 3.68 ERA over 25 outings so far.
Irvin is not a strikeout pitcher, generating just over six strikeouts per nine innings. His fastball sits at just 91 mph, but this has not limited him at all. The lefty has been great at limiting walks (1.9 BB/9) and homers (0.75 HR/9), which has led to a 3.73 FIP, an impressive number when considering his lack of strikeouts.
Unlike Skubal, the last few games have not been great for Irvin, as he has surrendered nine runs over 14 innings while also uncharacteristically walking seven batters during this stretch. Maybe the Tigers can take advantage and finally start scoring some runs for the first time in over a week.
Key matchup: Skubal vs. finishing strong
No one was going to rule out Skubal just because he got roughed up in 32 innings last year, but it was certainly a bit demoralizing to see him struggle so consistently, especially considering how many starts ended early. This season has been a completely different story, but something about an ERA starting with a ‘3’ would make the offseason leading into 2022 feel that much better. Skubal is nearly there; he just needs to continue doing what he is doing for his last few outings.