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Dog Days 
Posted on June 13, 2021 at 03:05 AM.

Manager has a plan for trio of young starters

July 1, 2021

Tiger manager A.J. Hinch has a bit of a problem on his hand. The first place Tigers have a trio of young rookie starting pitchers, who have yet to complete a full MLB season. Kyle Dutcher, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal have been outstanding.

The 21 year old Dutcher leads the Majors with 15 wins, and 167 strikeouts. He has won every single start. He has also pitched at least 6 innings in each start. Most impressively, he has walked just two hitters in 110 innings of work, and has a 1.15 ERA. He has also proven to be an outstanding hitter (more on that later.)

Casey Mize has been almost as impressive. Mize is 10-0, with 12 quality starts among his 16 starts this season. He has a 3.06 ERA, and 91 strikeouts in 103 innings. He has been every bit as good as the Tigers hoped when taking him first overall in the 2018 draft.

Tarik Skubal has been very good as well. He is 5-2 with 13 quality starts, 16 starts overall. Skuball doesn't have the strikeout numbers of Dutcher or Mize, but he has been very very good, usually inducing soft contact. Hitters rarely square up his pitches.

Hinch knows he has to lessen their workload as the season moves into the dog days of summer. Part of the problem, is these rookies are pitching well. Extremely well. They are a huge reason the Tigers are as dominant as they have been all season long. "They are a big reason we are where we are in the standings. I can't just shut them down" Hinch said. "Still, I have a plan."

That plan does not, at least at this time, include moving to a 6 man rotation. "Going to a 6 man rotation doesn't really do much. It cuts maybe 3 starts off a guys total. So somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 innings? Not a huge difference" Hinch said. "I think, for the time being, is to completely skip a turn in the rotation, and start Urena in their place. Maybe one turn through the rotation, We'll skip Tarik (Skubal). The next time through, we'll skip Casey (Mize). And the next time through, we'll skip Dutch (Dutcher).

This has the potential to lessen their workload more than a strict 6 man rotation would. It could potentially reduce their workload by 4 starts each. Hinch believes this will be a more effective way to limit their innings.

Something else this plan has the potential to do, is get Dutcher's very potent bat in the Tiger lineup even more often. Currently, Dutcher is in the lineup 3 out of every 5 games, including games when he pitches, where the Tigers forgo the DH, and let him bat. He does occasionally pinch hit on his days off. He has put up ridiculous offensive numbers. In 207 plate appearances, he has hit 20 home runs, and driven in 65 runs, with 17 doubles, and a triple. He has also stolen a team high 16 bases, without being caught once. Maybe most impressively, though, he has almost twice as many walks as strike outs, with 21 walks, striking out just 12 times.

As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, the Detroit Tigers appear to be 'All In." "It was my dad's dream to bring a World Series Championship to the city of Detroit" said Christopher Ilitch, President of Ilitch Holdings, which owns the Tigers. "We got there twice, but came out on the losing end both times" Ilitch continued. "Were going to do whatever we can to get back to the World Series, and win it." When asked if this meant that GM Al Avila could trade for a big name player, Ilitch said "If there is a player out there that Al thinks can help this team win the World Series, then he can try to get that player, regardless of what the contract is. We're in this to win it"

There aren't a whole lot of areas where the Tigers need to improve on. Maybe Shortstop or Center field. It probably wouldn't hurt to bring in another quality bullpen arm, and maybe a bench bat. Trevor Story is out there. Would the Tigers be willing to give up the top tier prospect(s) it would take to make that deal happen? It's possible. It has also been rumored that the Angels will listen to offers on phenom Mike Trout. It's unlikely the Angels would actually move him, but if they did, would the Tigers actually consider taking on that huge contract, to win now? Highly unlikely.

But then again, it's not any more unlikely than the Tigers winning 72 of their first 82 games. Yet here we are.
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