The formula seems simple, but few have been able to execute it like Tarik Skubal.Detroit's fourth-ranked prospect has been racking up strikeouts at a high rate since reaching the Eastern League, and he added 10 more to his tally Wednesday -- working around one hit without issuing a walk over
The formula seems simple, but few have been able to execute it like Tarik Skubal.
Detroit's fourth-ranked prospect has been racking up strikeouts at a high rate since reaching the Eastern League, and he added 10 more to his tally Wednesday -- working around one hit without issuing a walk over five scoreless frames as Double-A Erie bested Portland, 10-4, at Hadlock Field. It was Skubal's second straight outing with 10 strikeouts.
"Since I got here, I just show up to the field every day, try to get to know the guys I haven't really played with before. And then [I] just pick the catchers' brains and get to know how they like to attack hitters and just adjust my gameplan based on that," he said. "But it's really just been about getting ahead and making quality pitches late. Be aggressive early and then finish guys off with two strikes."
In six starts for the SeaWolves since his promotion on July 5, Skubal (1-1) has recorded 60 punchouts and 12 walks over 29 innings. The 22-year-old fanned 10 over 4 2/3 scoreless frames in his previous start at Binghamton on July 31. Skubal has posted double-digit strikeouts in five of his six Eastern League starts, sporting a 1.86 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while holding opponents to a .165 average.
"I've just been able to command everything," the southpaw said. "I've been working on being able to throw my off-speed when I'm behind in counts to keep guys off my fastball, but the key has been attacking early to get to 0-1 instead of 1-0."
Skubal faced one above the minimum against the Sea Dogs, allowing just a two-out double by No. 10 Red Sox prospectC.J. Chatham on the seventh pitch of the at-bat in the fourth frame.
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"I had everything working tonight, but my fastball was really good and I could command it in-and-out, up-and-down when I needed to," he said. "I got ahead of hitters early and then was able to keep them off balance to get back to my fastball enough to get it by them."
Skubal fanned the side in order through the first two innings on 26 pitches. After Chatham's double, the 2018 ninth-rounder capped his outing by sitting down the next four Sea Dogs -- punching out a pair in the fifth. He exited after 66 pitches -- 46 for strikes.
"I was locked in from the start," Skubal said. "Me and [catcher Chace Numata] were on the same page the whole way, so that always feels pretty good. I was able to build confidence from the first batter and then keep it through the five innings I was out there.
"[Chatham] hit a good pitch there. I was at 3-2 and I wanted to challenge him, but it just caught too much of the plate. He hit it a long way, but luckily it stayed in the park and gave me the opportunity to work out of the stretch and make important pitches when I had to make them."
In his second start with the SeaWolves on July 19, Skubal set a career high with 13 whiffs over six scoreless frames in a 6-2 victory over Richmond in 10 innings.
The Seattle University product was afforded plenty of run support as the SeaWolves teed off for 20 hits on Wednesday. Detroit's No. 28 prospect Derek Hill turned in the first five-hit effort of his career -- finishing with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Fifth-ranked Isaac Paredes added his first four-knock performance of the season while driving in three runs and scoring twice. Josh Lester and Numata collected three hits apiece, while Jose Azocar and Daniel Pinero both went yard. Azocar finished with three RBIs.
Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24.