All eyes turned towards the Detroit Tigers tonight as 2018 number one overall selection Casey Mize made his major league debut. Unfortunately for Detroit, Mize’s encouraging outing was not enough to overcome a red-hot Chicago White Sox team. Detroit falls to Chicago by a final score of 5-3, and faces a potential four-game sweep tomorrow.
The story of tonight’s first four innings was the major league debuts of two highly touted starting pitching prospects: Chicago White Sox prospect Dane Dunning, and, Detroit Tigers mega-prospect Casey Mize (you know the guy).
Jeimer Candelario kicked off tonight’s game by jumping on Dunning’s first pitch in the majors for a lead-off double. Unfortunately, Niko Goodrum, Miguel Cabrera, and Jonathan Schoop went down quietly, and Casey Mize experienced his first “TTBDNS” (Tigers Threaten But Do Not Score, of course) before he could even get the ball.
Mize’s first inning was a great sign of things to come, as he got Tim Anderson out in just two pitches (I know, I didn’t know it was possible, either) and struck out both Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez. The top of the second inning, meanwhile, was a sign of things to come this season for Detroit, as Dane Dunning took Tigers hitters down in a quick one-two-three inning. In the bottom of the second, however, Mize hung a slider on the inner edge to Edwin Encarnacion, who knocked a solo home run to give the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Nomar Mazara then jumped on a 95.4 mph four-seam fastball from Mize for a line-drive double, but Mize wiggled out of the jam to limit the damage.
In the third inning, Dane Dunning struck out the side, retiring all three of Grayson Greiner, Isaac Paredes, and Jeimer Candelario with a particularly nasty slider. Mize, however, responded with a one-two-three inning of his own, striking out both Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu swinging with his signature splitter. After the Tigers put runners on the corners with two outs but failed to score in the fourth, Mize once again made quick work of White Sox hitters, allowing a single to Eloy Jimenez before retiring the next three hitters to end the inning, and it seemed that this game was quickly becoming a pitcher’s duel.
Of course, these are two rookie starting pitchers making their first-ever major league starts after completing skipping the Triple-A level. In the top half of the fifth inning, JaCoby Jones singled and Isaac Paredes drew a walk to set up a three-run Jeimer Candelario home run, putting Detroit up 3-1. Dunning was taken out of the game following Candelario’s home run, and all of a sudden, everything was coming up Millhouse.
Then, inevitably, Casey Mize, too, fell crumbled a bit courtesy of a little hard contact and a seeing eye single. He allowed a lead-off double to Zack Collins (who, I should add, had zero hits on the year entering today), struck out Adam Engel, and then allowed back-to-back singles to Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada, tying the game at 3-3. With no chance at the win and a chance at the loss with Yoan Moncada on base, manager Ron Gardenhire replaced Casey Mize with Jose Cisnero, who retired Jose Abreu and Eloy Jimenez to end the inning. Mize’s final line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 7 K. (Dunning, interestingly enough, posted a very similar line: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.)
Over the next couple of innings, Tigers and White Sox relievers traded one-two-three innings. Jose Cisnero and White Sox reliever Matt Foster both threw 1.2 hitless innings, while Bryan Garcia and White Sox reliever Steve Cishek both threw one hitless inning. Unfortunately, the Tigers blinked first. After Evan Marshall pitched a one-two-three eighth inning for Chicago, former 2020 breakout star Gregory Soto gave up two solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the White Sox up 5-3. Alex Colome pitched a one-two-three inning himself, and that’s all she wrote.
Now, a 6.23 ERA is by no means good, but Casey Mize’s debut was impressive overall. Mize struck out over half the batters he retired, did not issue a free pass, and did not take the loss. And the best part? He had fun. And tonight, for this non-competitive team, that is more important than anything else.
Oh, and two more encouraging Casey Mize debut stats for you while we’re at it:
Last MLB pitcher to make his debut and strikeout 7-or-more batters without issuing a walk was Washington's Stephen Strasburg on June 8, 2010 vs. Pittsburgh. https://t.co/3sktNa78Aj— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) August 20, 2020
A shout-out to Jeimer Candelario is also in order. Candelario has bounced back from a poor start to the 2020 season by posting a .935 OPS in his past 15 games, and was the only Tigers hitter tonight to post an extra-base hit. Candelario now has the second-highest OPS of any Tiger this season behind only JaCoby Jones (who still has a .963 mark despite only posting a .623 OPS in his last seven games).
Perhaps this belongs in “The Ugly,” but Gregory Soto posted his second consecutive poor outing, and the relief pitcher that initially looked like Detroit’s 2020 breakout star in the bullpen just as quickly has ballooned to a 4.76 ERA on the season. That’s a small sample size for you.
Detroit did not record a single hit after Dane Dunning left tonight’s game, and this team’s offense is beginning to look more and more like the 2019 squad’s offense. This is to be expected when Niko Goodrum and Miguel Cabrera, the team’s two-and-three-hole hitters, have sub-.680 OPS marks. Grayson Greiner, meanwhile, is down to a .100 batting average, and Detroit’s losing streak has now reached eight. Simply put, this offense is horrific, and things look to stay on this path as the schedule stays tough for the next few weeks.
Tomorrow, Spencer Turnbull and the Tigers will attempt to salvage a win and avoid the four-game sweep. Lucas Giolito takes the mound for Chicago.