Keeping former 1:1 pick out of the Detroit Tigers rotation is the right move

The Detroit Tigers need to ensure that Casey Mize is ready to go for 2024 and, more notably, award Reese Olson the starting rotation spot he deserves.
Detroit Tigers pitchers including Joey Wentz, Matt Manning, and Casey Mize, warm up during Spring Training.
Detroit Tigers pitchers including Joey Wentz, Matt Manning, and Casey Mize, warm up during Spring Training. / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Detroit Tigers need to make sure they get things right with their final roster before Opening Day this spring. With the start of the season on the horizon, not many changes are expected to the team's roster at this point. What you see is what you get—in some ways.

But the Detroit Tigers' starting rotation looks much different than it has in recent years. They have a chance to bring a fresh group into the year, but they need to make the right decisions. They have a big choice to make involving one of their former first-overall draft picks.

The Tigers need to get it right with Casey Mize, and my proposal may not pique everyone's interest. Simply put, Casey Mize should NOT start the 2024 season in the Tigers rotation. With Mize returning from Tommy John Surgery, a lot is riding on him getting back on the mound.

He's been on a long road back to Detroit and is not quite there yet. There was talk of a 2023 return, seeing him return to the Tigers' mound last season. However, setbacks pushed that out of discussion, and then the Tigers played it safe and took the cautious route with Mize.

After all, Mize is a former first-overall draft pick, so he's precious cargo in the eyes of the organization, even five years later. There have been high hopes for Mize, and if they want to continue to get value out of their former Auburn Tigers standout, they should start him in the bullpen and give him the spot start.

Detroit Tigers need to move Casey Mize to the bullpen.

It might sound insane -- but there are a couple of methods to the madness here. Suggesting Mize to the bullpen will have some folks reeling, but the Tigers are in a position where it would be better to see what they have in their other starters. Hear me out...

Tarik Skubal is far and away the team's best option and will be the team's no.1 heading into the year. He's their ace and has even started to garner some attention as a potential Cy Young Award winner. Kenta Maeda's the most consistent pitcher on the staff. He may not win a Cy Young, but he will be a consistent arm for Detroit in 2024.

After that, it's interesting. It will be interesting to see what happens with Jack Flaherty as he aims for a career resurgence in Detroit. I like his odds of getting it done, and he slots in as the team's third starter. After that, many folks figure Mize to fit in as the fourth or fifth starter as he gets his legs back under him. This is where I disagree.

Matt Manning has been having a tremendous Spring Training. He's in line to earn a starting spot, and deservedly so. He'll likely flame out 100.0 innings into the season -- or the shoulder inflammation will return. It'll be interesting to see what happens there, but coming out of the gate, he deserves the spot.

Reese Olson deserves that fifth-starter spot. Olson was money for the Tigers last season and showed really impressive stuff. He has a lot to like and deserves a chance to start for Detroit in 2024. He should open up with the team's rotation; it's his spot to lose. The off-season moves and return of Mize should not be a reason to push Olson from the rotation -- he's earned his spot.

Mize can be the "sixth starter" and make a spot start early on, pitching as needed for the Tigers. It will be interesting to see what happens, but my armchair manager's opinion feels like Manning and Olson deserve those rotation spots, and Mize needs to prove himself once again.