Tigers vs. Red Sox Preview: Casey Mize looks to cool a hot offense

Bless You Boys

Well the offense finally got loose on Tuesday night. So of course it came on a night where Michael Fulmer didn’t make it out of the first inning. The Tigers starter on Wednesday night is Casey Mize, and we can presumably expect much more effective work from him. Can this lineup put up some runs on consecutive night?

Magic 8-ball says the chances are low. Still, I will continue to insist that the Tigers offense isn’t nearly this bad. Hopefully they can put together the rare complete performance and bring at least a little frustration to the Bostonians in attendance in venerable old Fenway Park.

For their part, the Red Sox are off to an outstanding start despite trading away Mookie Betts and not really doing anything major in free agency. Apparently this is possible without waiting for your owner to get down buying casinos and start spending on the team? Crazy, huh? The Red Hose are just 5-5 over their last 10 games, but their quick start still has them two and a half games up on the New York Yankees at the top of the AL East.

Detroit Tigers (8-22) at Boston Red Sox (18-12)

Time/Place: 7:05 p.m. ET, Fenway Park

SB Nation Site: Over the Monster

Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network

Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (1-3, 5.06 ERA) vs. LHP Martin Pérez (0-2, 4.70 ERA)

Game 31 Pitching Matchup

Pitcher IP K% BB% HR/9 FIP fWAR
Pitcher IP K% BB% HR/9 FIP fWAR
Mize 26.2 17.4 8.7 1.69 5.51 0.0
Perez 23.0 20.8 8.5 0.39 4.37 0.4

If there’s a one key flaw in Casey Mize’s game so far, it has been the total inconsistency of his splitter. The pitch is supposed to be his best weapon, but thus far in his major league career, we’ve only seen two or three starts where he really had it going. His start in Houston a few weeks back gave notice of just how lethal it is when Mize is commanding it, but those occurrences have been too rare. As a result his strikeout rate is quite poor thus far. That has to change.

We’ve also documented the fact that Mize has done a great job getting into pitcher’s counts, but far too often has been overly aggressive, missing over the middle when hitters are 100 percent primed to swing. Hopefully the splitter is in good from tonight, the mistakes over the middle are limited, and if we could make one suggestion it would be to mix in his knuckle curve a little more often. Everything Mize throws is either mid-to-high 90’s fastballs, or high 80’s cutters and splitters. Something a little more offspeed to keep this power packed Red Sox lineup off balance would be advisable.

As for his opposing number, 30-year-old Martin Pérez has been around for nearly a decade now. You may remember him from his long tenure with the Texas Rangers. He’s spent most of his career as a fifth starter type hanging onto to a rotation spot by his fingernails, but the past few seasons he managed to put up roughly league average results mainly by keeping home runs in check relative to the league and getting plenty of ground balls.

Yes, he’s the Tigers strange nemesis, a lefty with pedestrian velocity and stuff who keeps the ball down and doesn’t make many mistakes over the heart of the plate.

Key Matchup: Tigers right-handed hitters vs. the splits

It may surprise you to learn that against right-handed starters, the Tigers don’t even have the worst team wRC+ in baseball. Instead, they’re second worst. However, against lefties they’ve been downright horrific, posting a 33 wRC+ against the southpaws. Only the Atlanta Braves are even below 60 wRC+ to this point. Look no further than Miguel Cabrera, Jonathan Schoop, and JaCoby Jones as chief offenders.

Pérez starts sinkers and cutters at the center of the strike zone a lot, with the sinker tailing down and away from right-handed hitters, while the cutter works in on their hands. He’ll also get them fishing on the outer edge with his changeup. If the Tigers can be patient, and hunt that cutter on the inner third, they should be able to do some damage. Pérez doesn’t rack up many strikeouts, so the hope is to get a little batted ball luck, keep him pitching in traffic, and hopefully someone turns and burns on a cutter left up and in. Good luck fellas.

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