How are we feeling, Tigers fans? I hope you all enjoyed Tuesday’s win and have let that positivity flow into your Wednesday. After losing 10 of their last 11 games, the Tigers kicked off a series against the White Sox with a good win over one of the better young pitchers in baseball in Lucas Giolito. They will look to get momentum back on their side in Chicago by starting a winning streak Wednesday evening, and Casey Mize will be tasked with setting the tone.
The White Sox have an outstanding crop of youthful talent that are proving themselves to be good-to-great major leaguers. This is a team that is going to hit a lot of home runs off of you, and rightfully celebrate every moment of their success. Despite losing Eloy Jimenez to a ruptured pectoral tendon and currently having Luis Robert on the injured list, they still have Tiger-killer Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, Nick Madrigal, and Andrew Vaughn to mix in with veteran All-Stars Yasmani Grandal and reigning AL MVP, Jose Abreu. That concoction should be deadly for the rest of the American League. Then... well... then they went and dug up the fossilized remains of Tony La Russa, fastened a uniform to them, and rolled his bones onto the bench of the White Sox dugout to fill out lineups everyday.
The White Sox have all the pieces to be among the best in baseball, but 2021 has been disappointing so far. They’re doing all right, but on paper this team is much better than two games above .500. There is no way to quantify how much blame to lay on the manager, but it’s pretty clear that La Russa isn’t getting all there is to get out of this roster yet. Just last night he left Giolito in the game too long, a move that the Tigers happily took advantage of to steal a late-inning win. The move to hire La Russa in the offseason was universally panned, but he is undoubtedly a legendary manager, albeit from a different era. Will he and the White Sox eventually get it right and deliver on that promise we saw last season? Maybe, but hopefully not while the Tigers are still in town.
Detroit Tigers (8-16) at Chicago White Sox (12-10)
Time/Place: 8:10 p.m., Guaranteed Rate Field
SB Nation site: South Side Sox
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Casey Mize (1-2, 5.23 ERA) vs. LHP Carlos Rodón (3-0, 0.47 ERA)
Game 56 Pitching Matchup
Before this season, Carlos Rodón was just another mediocre former top prospect who probably wasn’t long for a starter role after having Tommy John surgery in 2019. Now, Carlos Rodón is looking like a capital-A ace having gained a few MPH to his fastball that he pairs with a slider that hitters are batting a cool .000 off of. Anything else notable about Rodón to mention? Oh yeah, he threw a no-hitter two weeks ago, where he was touching 98 mph in the ninth inning, the hardest he’s ever thrown in his career. Like all things, time will tell if this is for real, but as of right now this dude looks very much for real.
I almost just made a sarcastic comment about Rodón having a challenge ahead of him with the offense of the Tigers, but it’s not even worth it. If you’re reading this, you probably watch the games, which means you’re well aware of the team’s struggles to score / put runners on base / not strike out. To the Tigers' credit, they did take advantage of the few opportunities they had against Lucas Giolito on Tuesday, so thank Tony La Russa for allowing Giolito to try and pitch through it and let’s just hope he does the same late in the game for Rodón. Seriously though, it would be very cool to see Miguel Cabrera get hot and start pounding the ball again after two hits — including a home run — Tuesday night.
Casey Mize is in need of a bounce-back outing after getting roughed up in two straight starts. He’s given up a combined total of five home runs in his last two games. Facing a team that loves the long-ball, he’s going to need to shape up real quick or else he could be in for another rough outing. Mize was able to traverse Houston’s lineup without any issues, however, and it’s not like he has bad stuff. Known for his command in college, Mize needs to get back to a consistent release point which should go a long way in helping him spot his pitches better. More specifically, avoiding throwing meatballs down the middle when hitters are in swing mode in two strike counts, would do much for his cause.
Despite growing concern from the fanbase, it’s still way too early to worry about him. Remember, he didn’t face any competition last season until he got to the majors late in the season. He’s still a year behind the eight-ball.
Key matchup: Tony La Russa vs. good decision making
As mentioned twice previously, Tony La Russa’s old school trust in his starting pitchers worked in favor of the Tigers on Tuesday night. Rodón has certainly been better than Giolito to start the season and has earned a longer leash after getting stronger as his no-hitter went on, but there’s no denying that hitters naturally get a little more comfortable with a pitcher in their third trip to the plate against him. It’s no secret that the Tigers have struggled to score runs lately, so maybe we can trust La Russa to create a few more run-scoring opportunities for them again.