Detroit Tigers prospect Joey Wentz to make MLB debut; Casey Mize ready for first rehab start

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Joey Wentz will make his MLB debut on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics.

The Tigers are down three starters from the Opening Day roster: Right-handers Casey Mize (right elbow sprain) and Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) and left-hander Tyler Alexander (left elbow sprain).

Manager A.J. Hinch is turning to Wentz, a 6-foot-5 left-hander, as a short-term solution to fill one of the openings this week.

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“Wentz has been good when he’s been inside the strike zone,” Hinch said Monday. “His fastball has always been really good, secondary pitches have been a little better as of late. It’s a benefit to him to get a start. I don’t know if it’ll be more than one start. … It’s an opportunity for him.”

Right-hander Alex Faedo, who debuted May 4, is scheduled for his second MLB start, once again as the 27th player for a doubleheader. Faedo, 26, is slated for Game 2 of Tuesday’s twin-bill against the Athletics.

Then, Wentz gets to start Wednesday.

One of those two pitchers will stick in the starting rotation, which currently features left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, lefty Tarik Skubal, right-hander Michael Pineda and righty Beau Brieske.

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“Some of it depends on performance,” Hinch said. “Some of it depends on matchup.”

Wentz, 24, logged a 4.12 ERA with 10 walks and 26 strikeouts over 19⅔ innings in five starts for Triple-A Toledo. He made 18 starts and pitched 72 innings last season in the minor leagues, after recovering from Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

The Tigers acquired Wentz (and outfielder Travis Demeritte) in July 2019 from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for right-handed reliever Shane Greene. He is the organization’s No. 12 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

For the Mud Hens, Wentz posted a 33.8% strikeout rate and 13% walk rate, to go with a 58.3% strike rate.

Wentz posted four innings of two-run ball in his latest outing May 4 against Triple-A Worcester (Red Sox affiliate). He allowed two hits and one walk with eight strikeouts, tossing 36 of 56 pitches for strikes.

“Joey inside in the strike zone is very effective and can pitch at any level,” Hinch said. “When he sprays the ball, he gets himself in a little bit of trouble. Early in the season, he was pretty high (with his) pitch count per inning. Recently, a little better.”

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Matt Manning, Casey Mize (and Victor Reyes) on the mend

Both on the 10-day injured list, Manning (shoulder) and Mize (elbow) will pitch back-to-back games for Triple-A Toledo in Louisville this weekend.

Manning makes the second start of his rehab assignment Thursday and is scheduled to complete four innings, regardless of his pitch count, while Mize gets his first rehab start Friday.

“Past that, I’m not sure,” Manning said. “I’m going to take it day-by-day.”

Leading up to Thursday’s outing, Manning will throw a bullpen Tuesday at Comerica Park. The 24-year-old completed his first rehab start Sunday, tossing three scoreless innings for the Mud Hens. He allowed one hit and struck out four batters without a walk.

“I’m feeling good,” Manning said. “No setbacks, no pain or anything. … Once (the inflammation) got out of there, I took a week off from throwing, and once I felt good, we started ramping it back up. I threw two bullpens and then was ready to go three innings.”

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Manning fired 24 of 36 pitches for strikes.

“He feels great,” Hinch said, “90-97 (mph) on his fastball, which tells me he’s letting loose and doing everything without restrictions.”

Prior to the injury, Manning registered a 2.25 ERA with zero walks and four strikeouts over eight innings in two starts. He was removed from his second outing after the second inning with shoulder discomfort.

Manning likely requires two or three rehab starts before returning to the Tigers’ rotation.

“Definitely frustrating, but I’d rather do it early than late,” Manning said. “I guess if there’s a good time to miss some time, then hopefully this is the only time.”

Outfielder Victor Reyes will start his rehab assignment Tuesday with Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers placed him on the 10-day injured list April 23 with a left quad strain. He hit .261 in 10 games to start the season.

Austin Meadows returns

Outfielder Austin Meadows returned to the Tigers’ lineup for Monday’s series opener.

The 27-year-old missed the past three games with a non-COVID illness. Meadows will play one game in Tuesday’s doubleheader, as the Tigers ease him back into full-time action.

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“Not being able to play, I haven’t been even really close to 100% the past couple days,” Meadows said. “But I think I’m getting there, getting pretty close to there. I feel like I’m able to muster up the energy today and get back out there.”

He is hitting .284 with three doubles, two triples, 11 RBIs, 10 walks and 13 strikeouts in 22 games.

“I don’t know that he’s 100% back to being himself yet because he’s been down for the last few days,” Hinch said. “But we certainly need him. We need his bat. We need his presence. He balances our lineup.”

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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