Here’s what Detroit Tigers’ Casey Mize will showcase in his second start

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize felt the anticipation for his MLB debut Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox — from the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2018, his family, the fans and, of course, his personal emotions.

As his second start dawns, the Tigers’ top pitching prospect shifts his focus to finding normalcy for the remainder of the shortened season. He will take the ball at 7:10 p.m. Monday against the Chicago Cubs for his Comerica Park debut.

“We’re going to let him have it, and that’ll be fun,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday. “I’m sure it’s another big moment for him starting at Comerica, and we’ll just let him go.”

Since Mize’s debut, in which he allowed three runs with seven strikeouts in 4⅓ innings, he has spent time with pitching coach Rick Anderson polishing his cutter. While his splitter dazzled, his cutter faltered in movement and location. Mize needs both pitches working to his advantage.

“My cutter is my highest spin rate,” Mize said Sunday. “I think up and in (against) lefties is a really quality pitch, maybe a right-door to a righty every now and then. And then I just reduce spin drastically with the splitter and it falls. It’s a good combo.”

[ How Tigers are making Al Avila’s trade deadline decisions easy ]

Against the White Sox, the 23-year-old used 25 fastballs, 20 cutters, 19 splitters and nine curveballs. Instead of painting the top edge of the strike zone, Mize said his cutter drifted toward the middle of the plate too often. But his command of the splitter, his punch-out pitch, was superb.

Most of the time, as Anderson explained Wednesday, organizations don’t encourage the use of a splitter unless it’s the last resort for an underperforming pitcher toward the end of their career. That’s because some believe it increases the chance of an arm injury.

Yet the Tigers have let Mize stick with his.

“It’s been a really good pitch for me and it’s a weapon,” said Mize, who has spoken with Hall of Famer and former Tigers pitcher Jack Morris about how to use the split-finger in the majors while avoiding damage to his arm. “I’d like to hold onto it for as long as I can.”

[ Here’s how we graded Casey Mize in his MLB debut ]

Mize said his mentality is to “win every pitch” on the mound. In his debut, he didn’t meet his standards because of command troubles with his cutter.

Still, he managed seven strikeouts.

After spending the past couple of days repeating the delivery of his cutter, the rookie is expecting further improvement in his second start.

“I take that very seriously and very personal,” Mize said. “I really just try to do that, and then from a confidence standpoint, I believe confidence comes from preparation. And I believe that I prepared very well between starts.”

For subscribers: Casey Mize showed us something significant in his Tigers debut

Injury updates

• Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann “felt really good” after a bullpen session Friday and could pitch simulated games this week. He has been out since July 18, when the Tigers placed him on the 45-day injured list with a right forearm strain.

• Right-hander Ivan Nova is working on his range of motion and strength. He is on the 10-day injured with right triceps tendinitis and has been since Aug. 15. He has pain in his triceps and hasn’t started his throwing program.

• Utility player Harold Castro remains in the early stages of rehab. He was placed on the 10-day injured list Aug. 19 with a left hamstring strain.

• Outfielder Cameron Maybin, who left Thursday’s game with right hamstring tightness, is healthy and will not need another stint on the injured list, Gardenhire said Sunday. Earlier this season, the Tigers placed him on the 10-day injured list July 31 with a right quad strain, and he did not return until Aug. 14.

Lugo clears waivers

When the Tigers called up third baseman Isaac Paredes for his MLB debut on Aug. 17, infielder Dawel Lugo was designated for assignment by general manager Al Avila. On Saturday, Lugo cleared waivers and was sent to the alternate training site in Toledo.

Lugo, who was out of options, was unable to find a spot on the 40-man roster with a different ballclub and will remain with Detroit. In nine games this year, the 25-year-old went 2-for-10 with one RBI.

The Tigers acquired Lugo, along with Sergio Alcantara and Jose King, as part of the J.D. Martinez trade in 2017 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In 113 games with the Tigers, Lugo has a .236 batting average, seven homers and 35 RBIs.

[ Dawel Lugo wants to prove Tigers didn’t make mistake by keeping him ]

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content. 

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