Detroit Tigers: Casey Mize or Tarik Skubal for the future ace role?

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

After a brief first look at Detroit Tigers prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, it seems like Skubal is off to an early lead in the “future ace” race.

The Detroit Tigers wrapped up the 2020 season with a loss to the Kansas City Royals, finishing 23-35. That is arbitrary in this case; the important part is the beginning of the youth movement bringing Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal to the big leagues.

Both of them got their chance to strut their stuff in the big leagues for the first time. While neither jumped out there and looked like they were lighting it up and Rookie of the Year candidates,  but there were plenty of positives to be taken.

In their first season in the big leagues, Mize and Skubal put up some lackluster numbers but also showed that they have some nasty stuff. Fans should still be plenty excited for the future of this Tigers pitching staff with Mize and Skubal heading it, not to mention Matt Manning.

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First up, Detroit Tigers top prospect Casey Mize.

The Tigers brought up Casey Mize simultaneously as Skubal, and the buzz around him has been so high, there was plenty of excitement.

The former number one overall draft pick has had a buzz around him since he came into the organization.

In his first go-around wearing the old English “D,” Mize made seven starts, pitching a total of28.1 innings pitched.

He pitched to a 6.99 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP, allowing 29 hits, walking 13, and striking out 26 opposing hitters.

Everyone knows that Mize has that nasty splitter that he was able to use in 2020. The hard-throwing right-hander looked good, but there is room for improvement, which should be expected from him as a rookie making the jump from Double-A to Triple-A.

Mize features his fastball, sinker, splitter, slider combination, which is just nasty when utilized well. Having a solid backstop who can call a game and get used to Mize’s strengths will also help him flourish.

Mize has time to settle in and has a long way to go before becoming the future of this pitching staff. But it seems like VERY early on, it is Skubal who has the edge and a small leg up on Mize.

Does Detroit Tigers “feel-good” story, Tarik Skubal, really have the leg up on Mize?

It has not been the easiest route for Skubal, who has battled some adversity to make it to the big leagues, but he was part of the monumental call-up mentioned above that brought Mize and him to the big leagues.

Skubal’s first season with the Tigers saw him make seven starts, with one relief appearance where he accumulated 32 innings pitched. In those eight appearances, Skubal pitched to a 5.63 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, allowing 28 hits, walking 11 batters, and striking out 37 total hitters.

The numbers may not be the most attractive, but note the strikeouts; Skubal was able to find his groove a little more than Mize when it came to striking out hitters. After battling through Tommy John Surgery and being a ninth-round selection of the Tigers, he is now the organization’s fourth-best and is now in the big leagues.

It’s been a long road, but 2020 saw Skubal get to show glimpses of the power lefty he can be for this organization. Looking at Skubal’s repertoire, it seems like he was less able to weaponize his change-up, only showing glimpses of what it looked like in the minors.

It was a small sample size, but Skubal shows promise and has an exciting energy that the Tigers should be excited about for years to come. It is super early in both of these pitchers’ careers, and deciding something like this is pre-mature, but give the early nod to Skubal.

Both have room for improvement, both need to make changes and hit their stride, and both will be a future front of the rotation set of arms. They may not have entered into the big leagues carving up hitters like 2020 Chicago White Sox draft pick Garrett Crochet who has turned heads in his recent debut (as a reliever).

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The Detroit Tigers will have a stellar rotation in the future, likely to feature Manning, Mize, and Skubal. Still, early indication seems like Skubal might mature/develop into the future ace.