If you go a few years back on Detroit's prospect lists, you’ll see Casey Mize and Matt Manning at the top for pitching prospects in their system. If you scrolled down a bit, you would eventually come across the name, Skubal. He really broke out in the 2019 season and sky rocketed up their ranks. Now in 2022, Skubal looks to be the best pitcher Detroit has. I like this spot for him to continue his wonderful start to the year.
Skubal is currently top 10 in the league in ERA as well as 11th in WHIP. He has elite control (90th percentile in BB%) which allows him to work deep into games. He has pitched 6 or more innings in 5 of his last 6 starts, and pitched 7 innings in 3 of them including back to back starts. He pounds the strike zone, which should bode well vs this Pirates team who likes to keep the bat on their shoulder, more on that later. Skubal averages 1.05 K per inning this season. He currently sits in the 75th percentile in K%, 50th percentile in whiff rate, and 67th percentile in chase rate. He has a 27% K rate for the season thanks to a nasty 5 pitch arsenal. One of the craziest stats I have come across this season, he has thrown his change up 124 times this season and all 124 have been to right handed batters. He has a terrific 46% whiff rate on that pitch and could see as many as 6 right handers tonight in the Pirates lineup.
The Pirates season long numbers may not indicate this being a very strong spot, however over the last 30 days the Pirates have really struggled vs lefties. They have the 3rd worst K% at 24.9% vs southpaws. As I mentioned, the Pirates just hardly swing the bat. They swing at the 4th least amount of first pitches, and are deadlast in swing% this season. They just go up there and hang out with the catcher and ump for a few minutes. I think that will work to Skubal’s advantage due to his elite control. He should be able to stay ahead on these Pirates batters and wipe them out with his breaking balls. I like him for 6+ K tonight.