Detroit Tigers former first overall pick has a chip on his shoulder in 2024

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Casey Mize has to come out and prove a lot this spring. The 2024 season could be a real telling sign of things to come (good or bad).

Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a regular season game.
Detroit Tigers starter Casey Mize pitches against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a regular season game. / Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize has a lot to prove in 2024.

The Detroit Tigers selected Casey Mize with the first overall pick in the 2018 MLB First-Year Amateur Draft. The former Auburn Tigers standout right-hander excelled at the collegiate level, and there was a lot of excitement around the youngster. He was a heralded prospect on his way to the big leagues and got plenty of attention.

As a former first-overall pick, there was hope that he could be a really special arm for the Tigers to rely on down the line. The sad fact is that he has yet to have a lengthy chance to pitch for Detroit, partially due to COVID-19 shortening the season but also due to Tommy John Surgery.

It's been nearly two years since Mize has toed the rubber in a big-league game. He threw just two times back in 2022 before he suffered a UCL injury that forced him to miss the rest of the 2022 season after logging just 10.0 innings. On top of that, he missed the entirety of the 2023 season.

It was a lengthy road to recovery for Mize, who should be full-go as the team begins Spring Training in Lakeland, Fla., this month. Last year, as he worked to return to the mound, he suffered some setbacks and issues with fatigue that would ultimately hold him off the mound in 2023.

Initially, there was some hope that he could pitch for the Tigers in 2023, but the am was cautious with their former first-overall pick. But now, the 2024 season is around the corner, and it's got to be sitting in Mize's head that he has a long summer ahead. He only has one full season under his belt, and after returning from Tommy John, he's got to prove himself again.

The 25-year-old right-hander has had some scares with his arm in the past, so the Tommy John surgery was not ideal, but also not the most unexpected for some. He also underwent a back surgery and had to work back from both surgeries. It's just another reason that the 2024 season will be such a big year for Mize.

It will be interesting to see how things go for Mize. If he can come out and lock down a rotation spot, he could very well be someone who finds his way back near the top of the rotation. Tarik Skubal is almost the unanimous ace in different roster projections, but there was a time when Mize was slated for that honor.

Mize, however, was labeled as a fringe fifth-starter by ClickOnDetroit and has been placed in the backend of the rotation on other depth chart projections. Spring Training will be a big spot for Mize to prove himself and could help solidify a role for him in the team's rotation.

However, Mize's issues with injuries have me a bit worried. He's been shaky at times, and part of me has a hard time believing he will be an ace for this team moving forward. He will have to pitch with a chip on his shoulder and impress in 2024 to sway me back into believing that.

My fear is that Mize has more of a ceiling as a no.3 for the Tigers, provided he stays healthy and returns to a solid level of performance. It's a big prove-it year for Mize, and after the arbitration nonsense and contract extension for the right-hander this off-season, he's got to be looking forward to just getting out there to throw.

There will be a lot of eyes on Mize for many reasons, but keep an eye on the former first-overall pick; this could be a very telling year for how things will go down the line.