It’s time we talked about Tarik Skubal. As an unheralded left-hander out of Seattle University, Skubal was snapped up by the Detroit Tigers with the first pick in the ninth round of the 2018 MLB draft. Coming off Tommy John surgery, Skubal had an up-and-down senior year in the Pacific Northwest. The struggles precipitously dropped his draft stock, going from a potential third to the ninth round selection.
Detroit, at least so far, has to be very happy about that.
Skubal absolutely dominated after getting selected. In 2018, he tossed 22.1 innings between rookie, short-season and Single-A, racking up 33 strikeouts and just four walks, while only giving up one earned run. Though a polished college arm dominating the lower levels of the minors, especially as a reliever, isn’t exactly grounds for worship. It was, however, enough to land Skubal on some Tigers top prospect lists. Understandably, more was needed.
Thus far Skubal has provided that in his 2019 campaign. The Tigers moved the left-hander back into the rotation at High-A Lakeland. Through five starts, Skubal has posted the following numbers: 3.09 ERA, 1.47 FIP, 11.96 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 0.99 WHIP. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 31/5 K/BB ratio this season, amounting to a 64/9 ratio in 45.2 professional innings.
Guess he deserved those top 30 team rankings after all.
Looking at the statistics is one thing, but let’s take a look at the stuff. Skubal sits around six-foot-four and gets his fastball up into the high-90’s, although it sits 92-94 when he’s starting. The pitch has late life to it, which helps with his strikeout totals. He also sports a slider and changeup, both have flashed plus at times, although consistency will be key if he wants to stick in the rotation and avoid becoming a bullpen arm.
There isn’t much video on Skubal, but this Youtube video gives a small look at his arsenal:
So, the big question: should you be rushing out to grab Skubal in dynasty leagues?
League construct qualifications aside, Skubal is a big left-hander with a plus fastball who has dominated his way through four levels of the minor leagues in under 50 innings pitched. In my opinion, he definitely shouldn’t be ignored. Can he develop both his secondaries enough to the point that he can stick in a big league rotation? If not, I could see a future as a late-inning stud reliever for Skubal if he is able to develop a slider but can’t quite get the feel for his changeup.
While he could develop into a Josh Hader-like bullpen stud, for dynasty purposes the hope is that he will elevate both his breaking ball and his changeup. Mixing in a cutter or a sinker, which would allow him to boast a four-pitch mix, would certainly help him reach a mid-rotation starter ceiling.
Even though he was only drafted last year, all signs point to Skubal being an impactful big league pitcher. If you play in dynasty formats, keep an eye on him. Detroit is tracking him as a starter, but he still has some work to do. At worst, he could become a solid bullpen piece. Regardless, debut could be coming sooner than expected if he keeps pitching this well.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on twitter)