TARIK Daniel SKUBAL
Nickname:   N/A Position:   LHP
Home: N/A Team:   TIGERS
Height: 6' 3" Bats:   L
Weight: 215 Throws:   L
DOB: 10/20/1996 Agent: N/A
Uniform #: 29  
Birth City: Hayward, CA
Draft: Tigers #9 - 2018 - Out of Univ. of Seattle (WA)
YR LEA TEAM SAL(K) G IP H SO BB GS CG SHO SV W L OBA ERA
2018 GCL GCL-Tigers   2 3 2 5 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.167 0.00
2018 MWL WEST MICHIGAN   3 7.1 5 11 1 0 0 0 1 2 0 0.2 0.00
2018 NYP CONNECTICUT   4 12 8 17 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.195 0.75
2019 EL ERIE   9 42.1 25 82 18 9 0 0 0 2 3   2.13
2019 FSL LAKELAND   15 80.1 62 97 19 15 0 0 0 4 5   2.58
2020 AL TIGERS $131.00 8 32 28 37 11 7 0 0 0 1 4 0.235 5.63
2021 AL TIGERS   31 149 141 164 47 29 0 0 0 8 12 0.245 4.34
2022 AL TIGERS   21 117.2 104 117 32 21 0 0 0 7 8 0.237 3.52
2023 IL TOLEDO   3 9.2 6 13 3 3 0 0 0 0 0   1.86
2023 MWL WEST MICHIGAN   2 5 3 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2023 AL TIGERS   15 80.1 58 102 14 15 0 0 0 7 3 0.199 2.80
2024 AL TIGERS   14 86 62 98 16 14 0 0 0 8 2 0.197 2.20
Personal
  • Skubal is the son of Russ and Laura Skubal. And he has older siblings named Trent, Tyler, and Wil Jones, as well as a younger sibling named Treyvor.

  • Tarik was a star for Kingman Academy in Arizona, leading the Tigers to three playoff appearances, including the state championship in 2012 and 2013. He was named CAA playoff MVP during both title runs as well as CAA state player of the year in 2013. He pitched a perfect game during the first game of the 2014 playoffs.

    Skubal did not know much about the Pacific Northwest when Seattle University came calling.

    “They saw me throw in one of the fall classics in high school, and that was my only Division I offer,” Skubal said. “So I took it.”

  • As a freshman at Seattle, Skubal was excellent. He posted a 7-4, 3.24 record. He had Tommy John surgery and took a redshirt in 2017 in what would have been his junior year.

    Still, he was drafted by the D-backs in the 29th round that June but didn't sign.

  • June 2018: The Tigers chose Skubal in the 9th round, out of the University of Seattle in Washington state.
  • 2019 Season: Skubal, 22, emerged as one of the 2018 draft’s biggest steals in his first full season while climbing to Double-A Erie, where he racked up 82 strikeouts in 42 innings behind double-digit strikeout performances in six of his nine starts.

    He finished the year with a 2.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 122.2 innings (24 starts) between two levels and ranked third in the Minors with 179 strikeouts. He also was named the Tigers MLB Pipeline Pitcher of the Year.

  • In 2020, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Tarik as the third-best prospect in the Tigers' organization. He moved up to #2, behind only Spencer Torkelson. in the spring of 2021.

  • Spring Training 2020: Every time Tarik pitches in a game, he goes to his phone later. It's not for text messages or games. It's to take notes. 

    "I keep a little note on my phone of outings, good or bad," Skubal said. "And then going into bullpen [sessions], I'll re-read it if I'm trying to work on something or I didn't like something from my outing. That way, I'm never just wasting a day. I feel like you can't get those days back.

    "It's funny, because eventually you read them all and it's like a lot of the same things you're working with are consistent through all of them. That's just all lack of focus, I think."

    Skubal has learned focus from his battle back from Tommy John surgery at Seattle University to his rapid rise up the Tigers' farm system in 2019. He ranks as the club's No. 4 prospect in 2020 and likes to waste time about as much as he likes to waste pitches.  "Every throw is valuable," Skubal said, from playing catch to pitching in a game.

    A year ago, he was a big left-hander in Minor League camp converting back to starting after nine relief appearances in 2018, none above Class A West Michigan. On March 1, 2020, he was again the talk of Tigers camp, this time dominating a Red Sox lineup that didn't include many stars but had a good mix of proven Major Leaguers and prospects.

    A Kevin Plawecki walk was the lone baserunner Skubal allowed in two innings. When Bobby Dalbec stepped to the plate, having nearly cleared the berm in left-center field a couple innings earlier, Skubal made his final throws valuable.

    Having put Dalbec in a 1-2 count with back-to-back 95-mph fastballs, Skubal kicked up his leg, turned to the plate and delivered his hardest fastball for his 28th and final pitch of the afternoon. "I was going up in the zone," Skubal said, "so I was just thinking, 'If I'm going to miss, it better be hard.'"  It resulted in his third strikeout of the day.

    "He's got a lot of ability, let's put it that way. And he's got a bright future," manager Ron Gardenhire said

    Gardenhire didn't know much about Skubal until this camp. All he knew was second hand from others in organization. Gardenhire heard some in the organization tell him Skubal could be better.

    For spring 2020, they're on par. One Detroit pitcher mentioned Skubal's fastball with Mize's splitter as two of the nastiest pitches in Tigers camp.  Skubal and Mize, fittingly, are housemates for this camp. They'll talk baseball at times, but "not a whole lot," Skubal said. It's more of a respite for them both, with Mize's wife providing much of the cooking.

    "Amazing," Skubal said. "MVP of Spring Training."  (Beck - mlb.com - 3/2/2020)

  • Tarik missed the first phone call from Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield on August 15, 2020. But he saw the text message from Littlefield saying to call him, and he knew what that usually meant.

    The call to the Majors is one a player anticipates for years, but it isn’t one Skubal saw coming, not yet anyway. He was surprisingly calm but admitted his heart was racing.  “It was kind of out of the blue. I didn’t really expect it, honestly, just because of where I was at,” Skubal said. “Getting built up and going through that throwing progression and stuff like that, I just didn’t really expect it. But it was great news regardless.”

    The way Tarik’s season was progressing before the 2020 coronavirus shutdown, a late summer call to the big leagues seemed destined. He was one of the stars of Spring Training 2020 in Lakeland, Fla., and he had vaulted alongside Casey Mize and Matt Manning as the Tigers’ top pitching prospects. Then came a 103.7-degree fever, a COVID-19 diagnosis in June, the struggle to get healthy, then the time to test negative.

    “COVID took me down a little bit,” Skubal said.

    By the time Skubal was cleared to join the team, Summer Camp 2020 had ended, and he had seemingly missed his opportunity to get in line for a promotion. His dominance at Detroit’s alternate training site, with scouting reports from team officials and coaches, put him back into the picture.  (Beck - mlb.com - 8/17/2020)

  • 2020 Season: Skubal tested positive for COVID-19 and missed all of July's summer camp. Once he was medically cleared, he went to the alternate training site in Toledo at the end of the month, where he met up with 2018 draft-mate Casey Mize.

    A couple of weeks later, the Tigers announced Skubal's addition to the active roster. He made his Major League debut the Aug. 18 against the White Sox. He got his first win Aug. 29, witnessed manager Ron Gardenhire retire on Sept. 19, and pitched in the team's final game of the 2020 season.

    It's been a heck of a ride.

    There were some bumps along the way, but for the most part, the 23-year-old exceeded expectations — a sign of even more success to come.

    "A lot of things going on, a lot of things happening," Skubal said after the Tigers' 3-1 loss to the Royals. "I still look up at some point during the game, and I'm like, 'Wow, I'm in the Major Leagues, this is an MLB game.' I think that'll slow down for me a bit the more times I get an opportunity to throw. But I'm really excited.

    "I'm as motivated as ever in my entire life for next year."

    Skubal allowed four earned runs over two innings in his first career start. He has allowed four more earned runs in 13 innings since then. Skubal finished his first season with a 5.63 ERA in 32 innings and eight games (seven starts). He had 37 strikeouts, allowing 11 walks and nine home runs.

    The thorn in his side was a Sept. 10 outing in a doubleheader with the Cardinals, where he lost control of his pitches. He gave up six runs in two innings. Without that start on his resume, he would've had a 4.20 ERA.

    In six of Skubal's eight appearances, he allowed two earned runs or less. The only other frustrating start came in his debut, giving up four runs in two innings to the White Sox.

    The display of his 95-mph fastball, improved changeup and slider, which opponents only hit .182 against, gave a considerable boost to his potential for dominance.

    "This is a learning process," interim manager Lloyd McClendon said about Skubal and Mize. "I think they got rid of the jitters, and as a result, they'll be better going into next year. They got to continue the learning curve and take away the good and the bad from this short stint. But I think both of those guys will be just fine. Someday, they'll be one and two in that rotation." (Evan Petzold - Sept, 27, 2020)

  • Tarik is an extremely strong worker. He is a very intense competitor.

  • In a strange way, Skubal had missed the anxiety that comes with a start day. He talked of getting amped up for the drive to the ballpark. When he entered the Tigers’ clubhouse Tuesday as a member of the active roster for the first time since last August after spending the past 11 months recovering from flexor tendon surgery, teammates pointed and wished him luck. In the bullpen, the butterflies hovered in his stomach. And then, as he dotted the mitt with his last four warmup pitches, he could feel the power return. 

    “I missed all that,” Skubal said.So though Skubal’s return was brief, it was far from tedious. Skubal’s dominance — granted, against baseball’s weakest lineup — was a reminder of his extreme talent. His fastball sizzled and topped out at 98.4 mph. He talked postgame of subtle mechanical adjustments that have helped make his velocity come easier. 

    The fruits of Skubal’s labor were on display Tuesday as a sweeping slider induced three of Skubal’s nine whiffs from opposing batters.

    “He’s a competitor,” catcher Jake Rogers said. “I knew whenever he stepped on the mound, whatever I called, he was gonna try to blow it by them, and he did.”

    After 11 months on the shelf, we again saw a young pitcher with all the makings of a burgeoning ace.

    “I expect him to be great,” Hinch said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, quite honestly, when he’s right.” (Stavenhagen - Jul 4, 2023 - The Athletic)

  • September 2023: Skubal was named AL Pitcher of the Month.

  • March 4, 2024: - Three days after the Tigers named Tarik Skubal their 2024 Opening Day starter, the left-hander provided a reminder why.

    “Tarik is a complete pitcher, and he was very, very good today, as we would expect,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He takes the intensity of a spring start very similar to what his intensity is in a [regular-season] game start. There’s a lot to like with him today, obviously powerful stuff, great secondary stuff, kind of breezed through his innings.” (J Beck - MLB.com - March 4, 2024) 

  • It’s Skubal’s time. Of all the pitchers on this list (2024 All-MLB Breakout Team), he’s the most likely to finish top five in the Cy Young voting this year. He’s the full package, with the right pitcher’s frame and mindset. Now, he’s ready for a bigger breakout. (Bowden - Mar 19, 2024 - The Athletic)

    TRANSACTIONS

  • June 2018: The Tigers chose Skubal in the 9th round, out of the University of Seattle in Washington state.
  • Jan 11, 2023: Skubal and the Tigers avoided arbitration agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.6 million.
Pitching
  • Skubal is a strong, physical lefthanded reliever. He has a 91-98 mph 4-seam FASTBALL with late life, that gets a 60 grade. He hits both sides of the plate and works it inside on hitters.

    He has 78-80 mph 1-to-6 CURVEBALL with excellent depth and a 55 grade. And it comes out of the same tunnel as his heater. Hitters can't pick it up before the pitch changes planes and drops out of the zone, which allows him to get a lot of swings and misses. It's a harder curveball with good spin.

    He has a SLIDER that lacks tilt, but he commands it better than his curve. The slider has shorter, tight break to it, which allows him to throw it for strikes. The natural movement and solid command make for a slider that is 60 grade for plus potential.

    He throws a swing-and-miss CHANGEUP with a 55 grade It has a short, tight, two-plane action and plus deception.  

    Tarik made his MLB debut on Aug. 18 and made eight appearances in all in 2020. His debut showed that his command and secondaries still need work. His arsenal still gives him the ceiling of at least a mid-rotation starter. (Emily Waldon - Baseball America Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)

  • Tarik didn't acquire his slider until 2019, when he learned it from teammate Adam Wolf. With that in tow, Skubal said it’s all about feel.

    "I like toying with grips,” Skubal said. "I'm always changing stuff, just to find out what I like the best. My fastball, changeup and slider have stayed relatively the same. I've tinkered with my curveball a little bit."

    Skubal attacks hitters with his heater that has late life. He complements his impressive heater with a trio of above-average-or-better secondary pitches, including a plus slider that he uses to back-foot right-handed hitters. Skubal's curveball is less dynamic and at times bleeds together with his slider, though he still demonstrates solid overall feel for the pitch, and his changeup will be another weapon once fully developed. He was more successful against right-handed hitters (.180/.259/.304) than lefties (.233/.277/.310) in his first full season, and recorded the Minors' highest swinging-strike rate (18.1 percent) among pitchers who threw at least 120 frames.

    An under-the-radar prospect heading into this first full season, Skubal has now established himself as one of the top southpaws in the Minors and gives the Tigers a left-handed complement to their rising crop of impressive right-handed starters. His changeup and curveball require further refinement, as does his command, but Skubal has the stuff and natural strikeout tendencies needed to become a No. 3 starter. (Spring 2020)

    Tarik is an intelligent pitcher, maintaining a good tempo and stays under control. He gets a 50 grade on his control.

    "I believe he can be a front-of-the-rotation guy,” a scout for a National League team said. "He has poise on the mound and deception to his delivery. He’s a high-ceiling guy. His double-plus heater with plus command sets up his off-speed,” the scout said. "There is a future plus hammer with downer action, and his slider is an easy plus pitch." (Spring, 2020)

  • Tarik has a high leg kick with a high, three-quarter release. He will mix in the occasional slide step with runners on. Clocked 1.78 to home from the stretch with the leg kick. Skubal hides the ball well and his cross body action adds deception. He repeats his delivery well.

  • Skubal has 60 grade control, but could improve his command.

    "I've just been executing a lot of pitches. That's what I put my focus on . . . just going out there and executing my pitches . . . being results-oriented, sometimes that will beat you up. I base it on executing my pitches, that's how I judge my outings", Skubal said in 2019.

    Skubal is a poised figure on the mound. At 6-foot-3, he makes the most of his long levers and works with a high leg kick. He stays balanced and has a small shoulder tilt to his delivery which helps him get good angle on all of his pitches. Skubal also works from a slightly higher and wider three-quarter arm slot. He is able to repeat the arm slot consistently, although his release point wavers at times.

    Most outings, Tarik hits all four quadrants of the strike zone. He can dial it up to 97 mph, but the pitch sits comfortably in the 92-95 mph range. It has late life up in the zone, which allows him to give hitters a different look from his other offerings that he keeps down in the zone. Skubal can also work the fastball with some two-seam action in to lefthanders, which makes him a difficult matchup for any batter.

    Skubal's delivery is key to his success with both breaking balls. The ability to spin the ball and wide angle of Skubal's arm slot allow him to manipulate the break of his pitches while keeping them in and around the strike zone. His arm speed is plus, and he doesn't have any problems getting on top of his breaking pitches to keep them down. (Justin Coleman - Baseball America - July 22, 2019)

  • MLB debut (Aug 18, 2020): Tarik’s debut at Guaranteed Rate Field lasted two innings. His lesson lasted well longer than that. His memories, even in a 10-4 Tigers loss to the White Sox, will last the rest of his life.

    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 was expected to be brief due to pitch count.

    “We were just talking about what I did well, what I didn't do well, what I'm going to work on in between starts to get better,” Skubal said. “That's pretty much it.”

    He’ll have plenty to lament that didn’t go well. His third Major League pitch ended up in the left-center field seats, courtesy of Tiger killer Tim Anderson. His first big league inning lasted 30 pitches, or about 60 percent of his expected pitch count.

    “He was really throwing it,” Gardenhire said, “probably overthrowing just about everything. Those guys, they’re swinging really good. But it was a great experience for him.”

    Skubal gave up three consecutive hits in what ended up being a three-run second inning, one coming on an 0-2 slider that Anderson seemingly anticipated, stepping up in the box as he crushed an RBI double at 107.6 miles an hour—two mph harder than his 422-foot homer.

    “It was a bad pitch. On 0-2, I’ve got to be better,” Skubal said. “Gotta get the ball down and in, out of the zone. I shouldn’t be throwing a strike right there. Obviously that’s not what I wanted to do, but that’s what happened. That’s one of the pitches I wish I could have back.” (J Beck - MLB.com - Aug 19, 2020)

  • 2020 Season: Skubal's numbers from his first big league callup weren't impressive, but that's understandable, considering he missed all of Summer Camp and made just a few starts at the Tigers' alternate training site before his debut. The lanky left-hander showed promise in his final three starts, recording 20 strikeouts and allowing just 10 hits over 14 2/3 innings as he grew comfortable throwing all his pitches to top-level competition.

    Skubal might open the season at Triple-A Toledo to control his innings total, but with a full Spring Training and a chance to work with new Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter, he should look more like the dominant pitcher who vaulted up prospect rankings in 2019. (J Beck - MLB.com - Dec 28, 2020)

  • 2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 60.1% of the time; Change 16.4%; Slider 15.7%; and Curve 7.8% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.8 mph, Change 83.5, Slider 86.4, and Curve 76.9 mph.

    2022 Season Pitch Usage/Avg. Velo: Fastball 28.6% - 94.3 mph; Slider 29.4% - 89.3 mph; Sinker 20% - 95 mph; Change 15.3% - 83.7 mph; Curve 6.6% - 77 mph.

  • 2021 Improvements: Tarik Skubal is fighting for a spot in the starting rotation this spring, said this week that he’s been tinkering with the splitter.

    “It’s a pitch that I’m learning,” Skubal said. “If I could take Casey Mize's splitter and just add it right to my arsenal, I would really like that. "It won’t be that simple, of course, but Skubal is pleased by the early returns.

    He went to the Driveline Baseball training center in suburban Seattle this winter looking to work on his changeup. “I just wasn’t very confident in it and I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted to in games,” he said. “It just wasn’t the pitch that I wanted it to be. I wasn’t getting the movement I wanted.”

    The advice from Driveline’s pitch designers? Make your changeup a splitter.  "I was like, ‘All right, I’m open to anything,’” Skubal said. The splitter is sometimes called a split-fingered fastball—based on the way the pitcher grips the ball—but it’s really not a fastball. It’s more like a change-up that has a nasty break.  "I really, really liked it. They really liked it. So that’s how it developed,” Skubal said. (Evan Woodbery - Feb. 25, 2021)

  • August 25, 2021:  Tarik struck out 10 over 5 innings, and his first seven outs of the game were punch outs.

  • September 12, 2021:  Tarik's six strikeouts over three innings marked his 22nd consecutive appearance with four or more strikeouts, the longest streak by a Major League rookie since at least 1893.  He moved out of a tie with Rays rookie Shane McClanahan, whose 21-game streak ended with three strikeouts in his last start against the Red Sox.

  • 2022 Season: Skubal pitched well last year at Triple-A Memphis, posting a 2.41 ERA in 33 innings, striking out 43 and walking just 12.

  • 2023 Season: From the time he returned from 2022’s season ending flexor tendon surgery on July 4, to the end of the 2023 season, left-hander Tarik Skubal was the most valuable pitcher in baseball according to FanGraphs WAR (fWAR). His ERA (2.80) and FIP (2.00) across 80 1⁄3 innings ranked sixth and first in all baseball, respectively. His strikeout rate of 32.9 percent, was second only to Spencer Strider’s 34.9 percent. With the 11th lowest walk rate, Skubal led the major leagues in K-BB%, and had the second lowest HR/9 mark, 0.45 home runs per nine inning, to Blake Snell’s 0.41 during that span. (Brandon Day@Fiskadoro74  Oct 9, 2023)  

  • April 16, 2024: Tarik Skubal's ascendance to an MLB ace began on April 30, 2021. That day was the genesis of what's become one of baseball's most unhittable pitches: Skubal's changeup.

    Skubal starts against the World Series champion Rangers as the most valuable pitcher in the Majors over the last 10 months. The 27-year-old southpaw has a 2.67 ERA and 122 strikeouts in the 18 starts since he returned to the Tigers rotation last July. And the changeup is the pitch that truly transformed Skubal into a 2024 Cy Young contender.

    Skubal's changeup is a unique weapon. It is a seam-shifted wake changeup -- the way he throws it, the seams of the baseball catch the air in just the right way and make his changeup move much more, and much more unpredictably, than it would otherwise.
     It drops. It fades. It dances through the air. And hitters swing and miss, more often than they do against any other starter's changeup. All because of the way Skubal orients the seams of the baseball when he releases the pitch.

    "Hitters have a harder time picking it up," Skubal told MLB.com. "Because it's supposed to be doing one thing, and it does something else. There's physics that go into it: The friction of the ball, how the seams catch, how the smooth air can push it."

    SP with highest whiff rate on an offspeed pitch, since July 2023Kodai Senga -- forkball: 60.1%Tarik Skubal -- changeup: 50.0%Patrick Sandoval -- changeup: 47.5%Blake Snell -- changeup: 44.4%Tyler Anderson -- changeup: 43.1%

    Skubal didn't just find that magical changeup overnight. Its development has been a three-year-long process. Here's how Skubal's changeup became what it is today -- a Cy Young-caliber pitch. (D Adler - MLB.com - April 16, 2024)

Career Injury Report
  • 2017 Season: Skubal took a redshirt year following Tommy John surgery, in what would have been his junior year. 

  • July 9-Aug 18, 2020: Tarik was on the IL.

    LONG-TERM FOREARM INJURY

  • Aug 2, 2022:  LHP Tarik Skubal was examined for left forearm inflammation. While Skubal sounded hopeful that he’ll be able to make his next turn in the Tigers rotation after leaving the latest start against the Twins with left arm fatigue, manager A.J. Hinch suggested the team will take a more pragmatic approach.

    “He’s going to get some tests done and see some doctors,” Hinch said. “I know he’s optimistic that he wants to make his next start. I’m not so certain just because of the alarms that go off whenever a pitcher is not feeling right. We’re going to be very careful with this and see where it takes us.”

    Aug 2-Nov 10, 2022: Tarik was on the IL with left arm fatigue. He did not pitch for the remainder of the season.

    Aug. 18, 2022: Skubal underwent surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his left forearm.

    Feb 28, 2023: Skubal is in the final stages of his throwing progression and is currently playing catch five times a week, according to the Tigers. Once that is complete, he will focus on throwing off a mound, hopefully sometime this spring. Neither Skubal nor the team have publicly discussed a timetable, but the typical return window for a pitcher is six to nine months depending on the extent of the surgery. 

  • March 14-July 5, 2023: Skubal was moved to the 60-day IL. (Editor's note: When Skubal returned, he went 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA in the second half of the season.)