Casey Mize, Reese Olson Win Rotation Spots With Tigers; Matt Manning Optioned To Triple-A

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers announced Friday that they’ve optioned right-hander Matt Manning to Triple-A Toledo. That puts an end to the three-horse race for the final two spots in manager AJ Hinch’s rotation. Right-handers Casey Mize and Reese Olson will open the season on the starting staff behind lefty Tarik Skubal and righties Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty. Detroit also reassigned non-roster right-hander Drew Anderson to minor league camp.

Detroit’s talented trio of right-handers didn’t make the decision easy — at least not in terms of spring results. Each of Mize, Olson and Manning pitched between 14 2/3 innings and 16 innings this spring, and none posted an ERA north of Olson’s 3.68. Olson posted the best blend of strikeout and walk rates in camp (22.6% and 6.5%, respectively). Mize notched the lowest ERA but the highest walk rate. Manning was perhaps done in by the six home runs he yielded in 16 innings.

While Manning won’t open the season in the rotation, it’s likely that he, Mize and Olson will all make their share of starts in Detroit this season. Mize is in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery and back surgery. He’ll be on an innings limit of some degree. Injuries in the rotation are also a virtual inevitability. Even with Manning opening the year in Toledo, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him start 15-plus games in the bigs.

Mize, 27 in May, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. He showed plenty of promise in 2021, tossing 150 1/3 innings of 3.71 ERA ball with a below-average 19.3% strikeout rate but a strong 6.7% walk rate and similarly encouraging 48.1% ground-ball rate. That looked to set the stage for Mize to seize a long-term spot in the Detroit rotation, but he unfortunately suffered a UCL tear early in the 2022 season. He wound up undergoing Tommy John surgery and, while he was rehabbing that procedure, underwent surgery to address a nagging back issue that had been plaguing him for some time. He’s still under club control for three seasons.

Olson, 24, made his big league debut with Detroit last season and quickly impressed. In his first 103 2/3 MLB frames, he turned in a 3.99 ERA with average or better strikeout (24.4%), walk (7.8%) and ground-ball (42.8%) rates. Olson supported those rates with solid marks in swinging-strike and opponents’ chase rates as well. The Tigers control him all the way through 2029.

The 26-year-old Manning was Detroit’s first-round pick back in 2016. He’s pitched in parts of three big league seasons, logging a 4.37 ERA with a 16.1% strikeout rate, 7.8% walk rate and 41.6% grounder rate. Manning hasn’t missed bats at the levels expected throughout his time as a top-ranked prospect, but he’s shown solid command and kept the ball in the yard nicely to this point in his career. He’s also had frequent bad luck with injuries, including a 2023 season in which he incredibly broke his foot on two separate occasions upon being struck by a comeback line-drive. He’s under club control through 2027 and will remain a notable piece of the Tigers’ rotation puzzle in the foreseeable future, even if he starts this season out in Toledo.

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