Detroit Tigers Spring Training Observations: Casey Mize appears to be optimized

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals
Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

To say this is a big year for Detroit Tigers right-hander Casey Mize is rather cliché and an understatement, but it's true. Mize has undergone surgeries for injuries to his elbow and back, sidelining the former first overall pick and impacting his contributions to the team's rotation. The nature of these injuries, particularly the elbow surgery, is significant for a pitcher, as it directly affects the ability to pitch effectively. In other words, you do not want to overdue it.

Elbow issues are common among pitchers due to the stress placed on the joint during the pitching motion, and they can sometimes lead to more severe conditions requiring Tommy John surgery. Additionally, back injuries can be debilitating, altering a pitcher's mechanics and overall performance. But during batting practice today, I noticed something with Casey Mize's mechanics that seems different.

Mize has primarily relied on a trio of pitches in the past: a slider, a fastball, and his signature splitter. The fastball serves a dual purpose, not only as a standalone pitch but also as a setup for his splitter. By altering the eye levels with his fastball, Mize can effectively throw his splitter down in the zone. Recent adjustments have led to more vertical break and carry on his fastball, enhancing the effectiveness of his splitter.

Thrown at a speed of 84-85 MPH, the splitter now exhibits a more pronounced drop, increasing the perceived separation between the two pitches to the batter. As a result, Mize's splitter appears more devastating, adding a potent weapon to his pitching arsenal.

Before he got hurt, Mize stood out with his pitching extension —he was in the top 5% of pitchers, (7) according to Baseball Savant. Having that kind of reach, even with just small tweaks, can really mess with batters' timing. In theory, it means they've got less of a chance to hit his pitches. It's all about making it tougher for the hitters to guess what's coming and connect with the pitches.

From a look at Thursday's video, take a look at how Mize has his glove set to the belt. Keep in mind, he is pitching from the stretch but looks different from 2022.

Now, let's take a look from the past. You can see the glove is higher, closer to the top of the jersey.

If he is going to use his splitter more, he will have some help. The Tigers analytics department suggested to Mize to get a bigger glove in order to hide his pitches better. It appears, with the small tweaks, his mechanics are much more streamlined.

It's tough to tell everything from just one batting practice video without multiple camera angles. But from what I can see, it looks like Mize has made a few tweaks to his mechanics to be better optimized for the Tigers rotation.

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