The Detroit Tigers have been in rebuild mode for several years, but they may soon be competitive thanks to a strong pitching foundation.
3. Casey Mize
Mize is the single most promising arm in the Tigers organization, including the major and minor leagues.
He was the first overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, and absolutely dominated the minor leagues.
The Tigers called him up last season, and he completely bypassed Triple-A.
If there had been a minor league season last year, Mize would have probably opened it in Triple-A.
But he made his MLB debut and was hit around to the tune of a 6.99 ERA and a 6.47 Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP.
He was plain bad, and had a notorious issue with the long ball.
Mize allowed 2.22 home runs per nine innings, one of the highest marks in the major leagues.
Struggles with prospects are to be expected, and the Tigers knew that their patience would eventually be rewarded.
Enter 2021: This year, Mize has been much better and is starting to show some of the potential that made him such a heralded prospect.
In 57.2 innings and 10 starts, Mize has a 3.28 ERA in 2021, with a 4.42 FIP.
His fastball velocity is increased, he lowered his walks from 9.8 percent in 2020 to 8.5 percent this year, and he cut that ugly HR/9 ratio basically in half, to 1.09.
His splitter is a thing to behold.
Casey Mize, 88mph Splitter and 95mph Fastball, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/XoFo5biWAQ
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 18, 2021
In Mize, the Tigers have a potential ace.
2. Tarik Skubal
If Mize was known for his command, Skubal is famous for his big strikeout ability.
Tarik Skubal was on point today.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 30, 2021
The left-hander famously struck out 17.43 hitters per nine innings in 42.1 Double-A frames back in 2019.
He is basically a fastball-slider pitcher, but the combination gets strikeouts by the dozen.
Skubal, just like Mize, was called up in 2020.
And just like Mize, he struggled in his debut year: In 32 frames, he finished 2020 with a 5.63 ERA, but at least kept striking people out at a high rate (10.41 K/9).
This season, he is still trying to find consistency, as he has a 4.59 ERA in 49 innings.
Other expected run-prevention stats suggest that he has struggled, such as his 5.41 expected ERA, his 5.77 FIP, and his 4.85 expected FIP.
In any case, he is still extremely young at 24 years old, so the Tigers can afford to be patient with him.
If he improves his command and maintains a high strikeout rate, he could be a good one.
1. Matt Manning
Some talent evaluators who are familiar with the Tigers’ system have said that Manning may have the best future among the trio.
Manning, a right-handed pitching prospect, had a 2.56 ERA in 133.2 Double-A innings in 2019, with 9.97 strikeouts per nine frames.
This year, he started the season in Triple-A and has struggled with the long ball.
Manning has allowed an unreal 3.97 home runs per nine innings, which has inflated his ERA all the way to 7.94.
It’s quite clear that he still needs some time in the minor leagues before he can be an option for the Tigers.
Matt Manning’s first two innings for Toledo tonight. pic.twitter.com/aLZKhjisvi
— Tigers Minor League Report (@tigersMLreport) May 29, 2021
He needs a few more innings in Triple-A, but he could make a huge impact on the next great Tigers team.