Detroit Tigers: Shortened MLB season beneficial for young arms

(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

A 60-game schedule may just be what the doctor ordered for the young Detroit Tigers pitching prospects.

The only thing the Detroit Tigers will be competing for in 2020 is another chance to land the first overall pick in the MLB Draft.  Let’s face the facts, the Tigers remain amid a lengthy rebuild, and having the 2020 minor league schedule wholly canceled due to COVID-19, a shortened season will benefit the young up and coming Detroit arms.

There is a significant difference between having no MLB season and just a 60-game sprint.  Many fans have suffered long enough without any professional sports and feel that July 24th, the return of baseball, can’t come fast enough.

The baseball purists are skeptical about playing such a short season, not to mention the universal designated hitter, but a 60 game schedule will benefit the Detroit Tigers.

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Recently during a team scrimmage, Mize greeted the future Hall of Famer, Miguel Cabrera, with a three-pitch strikeout.  Cabrera said after the at-bat that Mize ‘he was filthy.’ 

It’s precisely what Tigers fans have anticipated, regarding Mize anyway.  Cabrera fouled off the first pitch, and the following two pitches were swung on and missed.  The strikeout pitch was a high piece of cheese that Cabrera waved at looking like his bat turned into a pool noodle.

In sports, we like to build prospects up only to tear them down.  We talk a bunch about the top prospects and can’t wait to get onto the next.  Detroit has an excellent crop of young, potentially elite arms.  We are quick to look towards Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal, myself included, but don’t suddenly overlook Mize.

The Detroit Tigers drafted one of the leagues’ top prospects, pitcher Casey Mize with the first overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft.  Mize pitched essentially for an entire calendar year straight going from college to the Detroit minor league system only to be shut down with a ‘dead arm’ last season but not before pitching a no-hitter for Detroit’s double-A affiliate Erie Seawolves.

Mize also endured back and shoulder inflammation last season, and the Tigers decided to proceed on the side of caution, which undoubtedly was the correct route with their future ace.

Entering the 2020 season, Mize was expected to anchor the Mud Hens rotation at triple-A Toledo.  If everything were to go as planned, we would have expected to see Mize late in the summer throwing a couple starts with the Tigers, just to get his feet wet, and heart rate familiar with pitching off of a big-league mound.

Things haven’t been perfect. Actually, things have been the furthest from perfect.  When you consider the current state of the Detroit Tigers, it’s not horrible to limit these arms, as long as they get a much-needed taste of the big leagues.

The Tigers should consider using their fifth spot in their pitching rotation alternating between the likes of Mize, Manning, Skubal, and Alex Faedo.

As long as the future ‘core-four’ each earns an opportunity to enjoy some MLB experience, it’s been a successful 2020 season.  Detroit will have an opportunity to run out Jordan Zimmermann, Matthew Boyd, Michael Fulmer, Ivan Nova, and Spencer Turnbull. Still, the organization must allow these young prospects to throw live baseball in ’20 with no minor league baseball.

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With a limited season, it also allows Detroit to manage the workload and preserve these young arms, and that is very important.