First Impressions: SP Casey Mize

First Impressions: SP Casey Mize

Written By: John Moore
Follow Him on Twitter: @ajohnmoore
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW

Despite entering the season with a rotation that many expected to be the strength of this weak Tigers team, the rotation has been far from that this year. Entering action Wednesday the Tigers had the leagues worst starting rotation in terms of ERA (7.67) and FIP (6.55) and are also at the bottom of the league in strikeout rate. The poor performance from the starters this year had many Tigers fans clamoring for a change and that’s exactly what they got on Monday when the team announced they were recalling starters Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, along with infielder Isaac Paredes, from the teams alternative site.

Mize was the first overall selection in the 2018 draft and has impressed at each of his minor league stops. I recently ranked Mize as my #1 prospect in the Tigers farm system due to his Major League readiness and front of the rotation arsenal. While the overall line might not look super impressive at first glance and he looked out of sync with catcher Grayson Greiner, Mize looked very good tonight and certainly showed off some of his potential.

The Line: 4.1 Innings, 3 ER, 3 R, 7 H, 7 SO, 0 BB
The Pitch Breakdown: 73 Total Pitches (49 strikes, 67%)

PitchNumber/%CSW%Avg Velo (MPH)Max Velo (MPH)Spin RateVertical Movement (Inches)Horizontal Movement
4-seam Fastball25/34%8%94.296.2218820.115.7
Pitch By Pitch Breakdown

Mize was primarily working 94-96 with his fastball for the majority of the outing and the pitch was his most frequently used pitch at 34%. The pitch has the makings of an effective big league pitch and features some good arm side run, but he absolutely needs to be able to command it to have success with it. He struggled commanding it tonight and the results of this were his pretty underwhelming numbers using the pitch as it generating only 1 swing and miss all night.

Mize is perhaps most known for his plus-plus splitter than he was primarily working with in the 85-87 range tonight. It didn’t take long for Mize to show show off his splitter in this outing and he used it to get his first strikeout against the second batter he faced.

Overall, Mize finished the outing by getting 6 swings and misses on his splitter and the pitch generally looked like his best offering for most of this outing. Mize did appear to be struggling with his release point occasionally, especially early, when throwing this pitch and the results of this were several spiked into the dirt. When Mize was able to locate it at the bottom of the zone however, good things generally happened.

While the cutter Mize was throwing tonight looked diminished from the one he was throwing during spring training, it still has the makings of a very effective pitch. He was working 87-90 with the pitch tonight primarily and despite the diminished movement on his cutter, Mize was still able to generally get good results using it. He got 3 total swings and misses using his cutter tonight and used it to get a early strikeout of White Sox slugger Eloy Jimenez.

Mize only used his curveball 12% of the time tonight and when he did use it the pitch generally looked inconsistent. The first one he threw near the strike zone was to Edwin Encarnacion and the ball still hasn’t landed.

The results weren’t all bad using his curveball however, and it showed potential to be another very effective pitch in his arsenal if he is able to locate it properly.

Mize entered the 5th inning with only the 1 earned run. Things quickly came unraveled in the 5th for him though following a leadoff Zach Collins double. Tim Anderson was able to bring Collins home on a very softly hit single before a wild pitch and another softly hit single, this one by Yoan Moncada, would score another run and end his night with 3 earned runs.

Mize showed off through his stuff and good control (0 BB) why he was deservedly ranked among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. It’s certainly front of the rotation potential but Mize does have an injury history that’s slightly concerning. Mize will also need to shore up his fastball command and he was frequently missing his spots with his four-seamer.

While the stat line might not look that impressive after the few runs he allowed in the 5th I think it’s safe to say Mize lived up to the hype tonight. Mize has 2 pitches (splitter and cutter) that can be graded out as plus plus when they are at there best, but he will need to work on the fastball command and consistency of his curveball if he want’s to continually have success at this level. I have all the confidence in Casey to do this and we are potentially looking at the Tiger’s ace. Mize will make his next start Monday vs the Cubs and I am already really looking forward to watching him again.

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