Detroit Tigers: What to Expect For Casey Mize’s Debut

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Casey Mize, the third and final call-up for the Detroit Tigers is set to make his debut Wednesday night

The Detroit Tigers shocked everyone on Monday. GM Al Avila called for a Zoom press conference and fans and media alike were convinced that it was news regarding top pitching prospect and former first overall pick Casey Mize getting his call to replace the injured Ivan Nova. While Mize was included, the Tigers made not one but three additions to their club; adding third baseman Isaac Paredes and starter Tarik Skubal to the fold as well, who made their own debuts Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The most anticipated is certainly Casey Mize. Not only does Mize come with the hype of being the first overall pick, but MLB.com considers Mize to be the eighth-best prospect in baseball. The right-handed Auburn product has flown through the minor leagues in his short stint–throwing just 123 innings in the minors while reaching Double-A. Mize has yet to throw in Toledo outside of his workouts at the alternate training site.

Casey Mize’s Makeup

The Detroit Tigers have a history of avoiding questionable characters during draft night; but they were especially careful with the first overall selection. Avila, in a post-draft interview on 97.1 The Ticket with Stoney and the late Jamie Samuelsen, stated, “Every box on this guy checks out in a high manner.” He went on to detail the lengths they went to in making sure both that they were getting a healthy and talented pitcher, but also someone who would represent the face of the rebuild and hopefully, eventually, the MLB club.

Mize has been praised for his work ethic by several who have watched him. He has detailed as much in interviews his desire to get better. In short, he is not satisfied with his college or even minor league accomplishments. Such relentlessness gives him a great chance to be successful in the major leagues.

Casey Mize’s Stuff

As nice as work ethic and want are, the stuff is what gets teams and fans both excited. Justifiably so, as Detroit Tigers Director of Scouting Scott Pleis told the Free Press upon the draft pick in 2018, “Oh, he’s got MLB stuff right now.” Mize will feature a fastball that typically runs 93-95 mph but can get as high as 97. The pitch does not feature a ton of run, but he locates the pitch well enough to make it a legitimate MLB offering. Our friends at Tigers Minor League Report supplied some video of Mize last April in Lakeland:

The splitter is his calling card, not only because it is rare for pitchers to use it, but also because it is a legitimate out pitch for Mize which he can throw in any count with comfort. It dives, it darts; it moves, it maneuvers around bats. The pitch will start in the strike zone before sharp downward action induces swings and misses. The splitter is a special pitch and something to watch Wednesday night as Mize makes his debut.

Mize also features a traditional slurve which can induce swings and misses as well and serves as a nice compliment to his splitter. While the splitter is mostly vertical movement with slight run on the arm side, the slurve is one he can bury down and away to right-handed batters; which should serve him well against the right-handed heavy White Sox lineup Wednesday.

As much as Mize can induce swings and misses, though, he has preferred at times to simply work on efficiency and induce weak contact. When this is the game plan, Mize will switch over to the cutter, which will run in the low 90’s according to James Chipman with Tigers Minor League Report and run in on left-handed hitters.

Casey Mize’s Command/Control

Mize’s complimentary offerings make him exciting, but it is his ability to command and control those pitches that made him the first overall selection. Mize supplied only 1.9 walks per nine innings in 2019, so he does not figure to beat himself in that regard; a welcome site for a club who comparatively averages 3.5 walks per nine in 2020.

Hitting the glove will be important for Mize to avoid some of the troubles that Boyd and Skubal have faced so far in the series; as the White Sox have displayed their ability to punish mistakes. Thankfully, Mize has showed an innate ability to hit the glove both inside and outside of the zone with all of his pitches.

If Tuesday taught us anything, perhaps it was to temper our expectations. The White Sox lineup is legitimate and Tim Anderson is quickly approaching Jim Thome/Joe Crede/Whit Merrifield levels of annoyance, but Mize has had both Spring Training and Summer Camp to continue to prepare and improve. While Skubal was being monitored Tuesday night due to his scare with COVID-19, Mize should not have quite the resistance to go further in the game.

As far as what to expect overall, I could not have said it better than co-site expert Chris Brown:

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