Detroit Tigers: Top pitching prospect Casey Mize dazzles in MLB debut

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers phenom Casey Mize made his Major League debut last night and proved to be just as advertised.

Last night Major League Baseball’s eighth-ranked prospect and the leagues’ top right-handed pitching prospect Casey Mize made his debut for the Detroit Tigers.  This debut had been the most anticipated appearance for a Tigers’ starting pitcher since Justin Verlander.

The biggest question entering last night’s game had been could Mize avoid giving up a leadoff home run to Tim Anderson Chicago’s sensational leadoff hitter?  That was a success, and something the Tigers haven’t been able to do over the previous two nights.  After going 0-2 in his first at-bats, Anderson did fight off a dandy pitch below the knees from Mize, shooting it up the middle for an RBI single.

The second question became, how would Mize’s ‘stuff’ play at the big-league level?   We’ve seen his repertoire in the minor leagues,’ but Mize hadn’t pitched in Triple-A; Double-A had been the highest level the youngster reached in the minor leagues’ last season.

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For a young pitcher, making the jump from Erie straight to Detroit certainly comes with its challenges, but for a pitcher as polished as Mize, our question entering the game was answered very early on in the ballgame.  His pitching ability will play at the MLB level; he proved he belongs in Detroit.

Mize continued to bury his devastating splitter down in the zone for swings and misses.  That pitch had been hyped during his time in the minor leagues, and it proved accurate, continually keeping the White Sox hitters off balance.  The first couple of splitter’s Mize threw in the first inning were erratic, he spiked a pair forcing catcher Grayson Greiner to do some blocking early on in the game.

Casey shook his head on the mound in disgust after witnessing those pitches bounce well in front of the plate.  After a couple of deep breathes, he gathered himself and hit the reset button.  That alone is very impressive to see from a young kid making his first career start.

Entering the ballgame, we heard all about Mize’s tremendous control, and his ability to throw four-plus pitches.  All of that proved to be true last evening.  Mize was able to complement that great splitter with a 94-MPH fastball.  He was able to locate it frequently with great consistency.

The young right-hander tossed 4.1 innings allowing three earned runs on seven hits but fanned seven batters.  He grooved a slider that didn’t slide to slugger Edwin Encarnacion, that the power hitter deposited firmly into the left-field bleachers.  One thing to note, Mize did not yield a single walk in his first start, further proving his excellent control.

His pitch breakdown also should leave us excited.  Mize finished the evening, throwing 73 pitches.  Of those 73, 34% or 25 pitches were the four-seam fastballs.  He also threw 20 sliders (27%), 19 splitters (26%) and nine (12%) curveballs per baseball savant.

Unlike Tarik Skubal, who made his debut two nights ago, Mize is comfortable throwing four pitches, and that’s very beneficial at the big-league level.  Skubal tried to live with his four-seam fastball throwing it 56% of the time, but unlike in the minors where a pitcher throwing 97-98 MPH heat can blow away hitters, MLB players can time it reasonably quickly and do damage.  Skubal also tossed nine sliders, eight changeups and, six curveballs.  Once he becomes comfortable throwing more of those secondary pitchers, he will start seeing more success.

Entering the evening just seeing something positive from the highly touted prospect would be satisfying enough.  Mize did that; he proved he belongs, and despite not getting through five or six innings, he left us excited about his next outing.

Next. Playing the hypothetical game with the 2020 season. dark

Mize didn’t factor in the decision last night, Gregory Soto suffered the loss after yielding a pair of runs in the eighth inning.  Chicago beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3, extending Detroit’s losing streak to eight games.