Detroit Tigers: Let’s pump the brakes on Casey Mize until September

July 19th, 2020 in Tigers By Bob Heyrman

Even with the injury to Jordan Zimmermann, the Detroit Tigers are not expected to promote phenom Casey Mize to start the season.

It’s a mixed and matched Detroit Tigers starting rotation to start this 2020 60-game sprint.  Daniel Norris remains on the 10-day after testing positive with COVID-19.  He hopes to be cleared before the start of Friday’s opener in Cincinnati, but I’m not sure if he will be prepared to hop right back into the starting rotation after not being able to participate in these intrasquad games.

Starting in the bullpen may prove to be the better option for Norris until he’s back into the swing of things.  Yesterday, the Detroit Tigers were forced to shutdown starter Jordan Zimmermann with a forearm strain, an injury he’s battled in the past.

Zimmermann’s been placed on the 45-day injured list leaving a possibility for him to pitch again this season, but in all likelihood, his Detroit Tigers’ career is over.

I expect the Tigers to deploy a starting rotation of Matt Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Ivan Nova, Michael Fulmer, leaving the fifth spot to question.  Once Norris is cleared and ready to rejoin the rotation, I expect he will fill out the rotation.  Fulmer remains a question mark; we don’t know how effective he will be pitching in 2020 after having a year and a half off rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

We all are hoping to see Casey Mize start in Detroit’s rotation, and he appears ready, but I don’t expect general manager Al Avila to start Mize’s service time clock until later in the summer.  Having prorated service time during this shortened season means each day a player is with the Tigers this summer will equal 2.8 days.  If a player is rostered for the entire 60-game season, it will account for an entire regular season.

Why would the Tigers be interested in burning the service time of their young prospects during a two-month regular season, and it accounts for an entire season?

The prospects need game experience and live pitching/hitting, and having no minor league baseball this season will undoubtedly hamper their growth and development.  It’s still not a good enough reason to promote a player(s) Casey Mize, Skubal, Manning, Greene, Torkelson for a 60-game span, and have it calculate to a 162-game season.

Mize split last season between Single-A and Double-A.  With the Eire Seawolves, Detroit’s Double-A squad Mize produced a 3.20 ERA and an impressive 1.106 WHIP while making 15 starts.  Mize went 6-3 striking out 76 batters in 78.2 innings pitched.

According to Baseball-Reference, Mize’s 2020 summer camp stats simulated over a season of work would shape out like this; a 5-11 record with a 5.64 ERA yielding a whopping 24 home runs in 113.1 innings of work.  He’s produced an awful 1.544 WHIP pace during the summer thus far.  Sure, it’s only intrasquad exhibition games, but he hasn’t lit the world on fire pitching against the Detroit Tigers lineup.

Detroit can’t afford to waste 12 Mize starts in 2020 when the team won’t be competing for anything other than obtaining the first overall pick in 2021 and have them count for 32 starts.  I want to see Mize in Detroit as much as anyone, and I do expect he’ll get his feet wet later in the year, probably making five or six starts this September.

Expect Detroit to opt for Tyler Alexander to slide into the rotation the first time through until Norris is ready to retake his place.