Skubal’s debut a glimpse of what’s to come

Detroit Tigers

Tarik Skubal’s Major League debut lasted two innings. His lesson lasted well longer than that.
As Daniel Norris finished his first inning of relief, Skubal was still in the Tigers’ dugout. Pitching coach Rick Anderson was at his side, doing all the talking. It was reminiscent of the long talk

Tarik Skubal’s Major League debut lasted two innings. His lesson lasted well longer than that.

As Daniel Norris finished his first inning of relief, Skubal was still in the Tigers’ dugout. Pitching coach Rick Anderson was at his side, doing all the talking. It was reminiscent of the long talk manager Ron Gardenhire had with Spencer Turnbull after a rough start in Oakland last September. Unlike Turnbull that night, Skubal’s outing Tuesday was expected to be brief due to pitch count.

Skubal’s debut was expected to be a glimpse his immense potential as Detroit’s No. 5 prospect, as well as his learning curve. After all, Skubal hadn’t thrown a pitch above the Double-A level and was a young left-hander facing a red-hot, righty-heavy lineup. The Tigers’ 10-4 loss to the White Sox marked Detroit’s seventh straight defeat, but it was an investment in the future with Skubal, called up with Detroit’s injury-depleted rotation in flux. His outing was worth more than the four runs allowed on seven hits.

Box score

Skubal’s first big league pitch was a 94 mph fastball that Tim Anderson fouled off. His third pitch ended up in the seats in left-center field, the latest home run in Anderson’s tear against Detroit’s pitching staff.

Outwardly, the composure was there, the default mode for MLB Pipeline’s 50th-ranked prospect in all of Minor League ball. The command was not. While his fastball jumped up to 97 mph at the height of his first-inning jam, he struggled to locate his secondary pitches.

With Norris warming in the bullpen, Skubal used his final pitches to salvage his outing with his first big league strikeout — four offspeed pitches to Eloy Jiménez, who swung and missed at a slider just off the plate.

It was a good close for Skubal, whose next outing likely won’t be any easier. If Gardenhire keeps his rotation in line as expected, Skubal will be on turn to pitch Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. Many a Tigers pitcher has had horror against an Indians offense that has a 20-game winning streak against Detroit, including a three-game series sweep last weekend at Comerica Park.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.

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