The Detroit Tigers do not have a clear-cut All-Star this year. But never fear, for Casey Mize is here.
The Detroit Tigers has the youngest roster in all the majors with the average player just 26-years-old. Miguel Cabrera looks like a shell of his former self, and the team’s best hitters Jonathan Schoop, Akil Baddoo, and Robbie Grossman, play at positions with a plethora of sluggers across the American League.
Baddoo, Grossman, and Schoop have all put together nice seasons but none of them could be put on the All-Star team without someone else more deserving getting snubbed. Mize however has a real case to be made here.
After 82.1 innings pitched, Mize is 4-4 with a 3.61 ERA, 66 SO, and a 1.12 WHIP on the season. This puts him at a 2.2 WAR, only 0.2 behind early Cy Young candidate Lance Lynn. Like Lynn, Mize forces weak contact.
As the old Sandy Koufax adage goes, “I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.”
Casey Mize continues to grow as a starter for the Detroit Tigers
Mize is ahead of the game when it comes to that. This year Mize has relied on his defense to make outs instead of going for the strikeout every time. Nearly half (49.1%) of balls put in play against Mize are grounders. This may not lead to impressive strikeout numbers that someone like Garrit Cole has, but the approach has been effective for a young Mize.
This mature approach to the game has brought consistency to Mize’s pitching, something many rookies lack. Nine of his 14 starts have been quality starts (minimum of 6 innings with 3 or fewer runs scored). He’s also managed to avoid any blowup starts, keeping his numbers solid on the season.
Realistically, Mize is not one of the best five starting pitchers in the AL. There are a handful of guys with better ERA, more strikeouts, lower WHIP, and a higher WAR, but every team needs an All-Star and Mize is legit. Barring injury or an intense lack of production; Cole, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn, and Carlos Rodon, should be All-Star locks. Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manea, and Mize should all get consideration for the last spot.
The advantage Mize has going for him is that with every team needing a representative in the All-Star game the Tigers don’t have anything better to offer. Bassitt and Manea are teammates in Oakland so it’s unlikely they would both make it over Mize. Oakland should also have representation in the form of slugger Matt Olson, who’s been raking as of late.
Berrios is Mize’s biggest roadblock. The Twins only really have two other potential All-Stars in Nelson Cruz and Byron Buxton. Buxton is doing well in the fan vote, but he’s played in just 27 games this season due to various injuries.
Cruz has played well this season with .301/.562/.936 slash line and 16 home runs. The catch with Cruz is that he faces stiff competition at DH with Shohei Ohtani, JD Martinez, and Yordan Alvarez.
Ultimately it will be up to the fans to decide if they want to make a bigger push for Cruz or Buxton. Buxton looked like an early MVP candidate to start the season but with limited playing time, one may argue Cruz is more deserving at this point.
Either of these players being selected to represent Minnesota improves Mize’s chances to represent Detroit. The Tigers must send someone to the Midsummer Classic, why not Mize?