MLB Season Preview: AL Central X-Factors

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 29: Garrett Crochet #45 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Cincinnati Reds on September 29, 2021 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 29: Garrett Crochet #45 of the Chicago White Sox looks on against the Cincinnati Reds on September 29, 2021 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Detroit Tigers: Starting Pitcher Tarik Skubal

It had to be one of the three-headed pitching monster that is slowly coming into shape in the Motor City (four-headed if you include Alex Lange).

For argument’s sake let’s presume that Casey Mize becomes the bonafide ace that the Tigers used the number 1 overall draft pick in 2018, this is by no means a guarantee, but the early returns in his first full season seem to be promising.

The next order of business for the Tigers is to make sure that the rest of the young pitching core follows in Mize’s footsteps. Skubal is a good place to start, he pitched to a 4.34 ERA/1.26 WHIP, compare that to Mize’s 3.71/1.14. Skubal gave up 35 home runs which tied him for third-most only behind Mike Foltynewicz, Patrick Corbin, and Jordan Lyles. If Skubal can solve his long ball issues, he will be well on his way to becoming the clear number two in a young rotation.

Cleveland Guardians: Centerfielder Myles Straw

I debated quite a bit between Straw and reliever James Karinchak. Once Straw got out of Houston and wasn’t overshadows by the plethora of stars in Houston, not only did Straw’s numbers improve from hitting higher in the order, but Straw also thrived with the increased pressure coming over to the Guardians in the Phil Maton trade.

In 60 games with Cleveland, Straw had a .285/.362/.377 triple-slash line, albeit in a smaller sample of games.  If Straw can sustain those numbers over a full 162, Straw becomes a centerpiece to the mini-rebuild the Guardian undertook ever since letting go of Francisco Lindor.